Simmering Past


Most of the time it sleeps,
the measured snoring of an old dog
content in a warm bed
of lessons we have learned.

So when we meet today we
tiptoe and whisper.
I tell you how poetry
leaped out of the blue,
led to writing a book.
You tell me how you built a sunken garden
at the back of the house,
surprised by your own success.
We swap photos of grandchildren

Then there is a pause – a long one.

We decorate the silence with laughter
at words on the menu like
‘chai latte’ and ‘flat white’
and how it seems these days
you need a steam engine to
make a cup of coffee.

Memories begin to surface;
they grapple in search of sunlight
and there is movement,
something stirring, restless.
I hear a deep, laboured sigh
then a troubled groan;
I think you hear it too.
The whole building shivers.


First Love

First Love

We were together three years, you and I.
The sketch you drew of The Beatles
for my bedroom wall was so good,
far too good to be torn
into a thousand pieces.

I let them flutter from the bedroom
window among the snow, hoping
they would melt with the thaw
but they were still there and
I had to sweep them away.

And I hoped that if I unravelled
every stitch from the jumper I knit you,
hurtful memories would uravel too,
but they just lay there in a shrivelled
heap, much more bitter than sweet.

Your mother sent me a kind letter
saying how much she liked me
with a well-meaning
consolation prize,
nylon stockings,
American tan with seams.
I never wore them;
I preferred tights.

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