Poems by Angela Readman (UK)
Published in The Ofi Press issue 36.
Sorry: an assay
Come, arrive on another mother’s invitation,
an ugly girl spattered in lace, blood
on a dress with a price tag on the neck.
Your breath stinks of the gas ring I left on
while everyone slept. You’re spit on my lips
sticking to China dolls, legs broken bones.
Did anyone tell you you sound like the snap
of a stitch no one made before the seam split?
The O of you is a loose button, rolls in us all.
You drip pale as the last of the milk, gape
more than the lid on the biscuit tin, air staled
in our mouths. Tick tock tick, I hear you,
a foot that won’t fit into a waterproof boot,
a slow hand on a Tom and Jerry watch. You
are a bad performance of Anne Frank,
the wishbone I lost, the scab I should not
have picked. I love your cheap glue, bubblegum
stuck in my hair, your poultice bound around
the silver scar of a porcelain milkmaid
with a slanted head. I have used your sticky tape
on a hole on my water wings and still sank.
Here, sit back, eat the scraps I keep asking for,
the charred toast I scrape with your knife. Drink
a glass of water attending a room after it burnt down.
I cling to your skirts, a woman on fire, racing back
into the house, searching for something to save,
the mortar we dab at our crumbling walls.
Can you stop us falling? Sorry, you are just
a word I am told I don’t know the meaning of.
| The Day Valentino Died |
It was the end of love. Our mouths knew it,
whispering the news. Strawberries dropped
to the street, rolled in the gutters with sighs.
Black clothes dye spilled ink onto late August.
The sky built a slate roof over our heads.
I saw newsprint in the veins of my wrists, rivers
full of women drinking poison-laced tears.
Our summer skirts were used tissues,
dropped from rooftops into strange arms.
Girls filed past the talcumed coffin, pale,
powdered by ground smiles, hope chests shut.
We lay poems, lone gloves onto the lover’s lap
for his last ride, wept dunes for the sheik
in our wombs unpitching a silk tent.
It was the end of love we knew as well as our pillow,
the world’s breast reverberated to the words
one man never said. Our factory girl lips licked
a name, ripped it into red velvet strips, cries torn
from mouths making stringy bandages for the soul.
We died, and died, and went home to stare
at our mothers chopping onions and pegging laundry.
Quietly, they drew a line through summer, hung
their smalls, pumpky, broekie, panteleta, at half mast.
Angela Readman's poetry has been the winner of the Mslexia Competition, and The Essex Poetry Prize. She also writes stories. She is a twice short listed winner of The Costa Short Story Award. Her collection of short stories, Don't Try This at Home will be published by & Other Stories in 2015.