How Did You Get Here?
I got here trying not to be her,
without a map or a mother’s hand
to hold when scared. Eyes raw from
sleepless nights, fearing the days ahead,
I giggled with dread and looked happy
Hid my longing to be alone, inverted
upside down, in a hole in the ground.
Clowning clattered through me
ensured no-one knew me. Laughter
safer than affection, an acceptable rejection.
That’s a lie, I wanted to be liked
and understood, a little at least,
even accepted. I wanted to be kind,
never frighten a child with hate-mind,
eyes fierce and fisted, weeping hands hot
with shame. How did I get here?
By refusing to become her
and my children’s unbruised skin.
Acorns fall, rattle on her coffin’s lid.
Rain drenches the ruffian diggers
who sink her in the soil.
Her lone plot, unsanctified,
rank, putrid and defiled.
In death, as in life,
she’s cast out and reviled.
The warmest girl,
the softest heart,
and shy. So shy.
Punished for love
and unwed motherhood.
Some picked by choice, favoured by my eye,
others fallen, russet rusted, caught on leaf blankets,
All set to be washed and sliced ready for the jam pan.
Brown pips shine, comma the cores, leave fibrous shells,
leftovers piled high to be dumped in a compost heap.
Brown sugar bubbles, heat releases pectin. Tart tastes sweetened,
remember the false promise of an Indian summer’s sun.
Fruit, spooned into Kilner jars with Mason lids,
circled and screwed down tight, cooled for now,
my preserve will wait until you have an appetite.
Dad (1917- 1993)
I still bump into you. In the market,
squashed tomatoes recall your splattered
white shirt, juice-stained red. Our picnic,
that fierce summer frazzled you. You’d said,
‘Don’t make a mess, bite fruit like this’.
A wasp buzzed and whirled around
as your pride dived and hit the ground.
Today, family hands, dinner plates,
freight memories of yours, my own
included. I’m thrown back years
to your skin stretched taut by scrubs
and Lifebuoy Soap, hair slicked
to John Wayne gloss with Brylcreem,
breath warm and Woodbine sour.
Your swollen, lovely, tone-deaf bass
haunts me yet, raises goose-bumps.
Your Home, Home on the Range,
in two-note riffs, one up, one down.
Tuneless, yet much sweeter than
my mutant mother’s perfect pitch.
The first cup he made for her, drawn from a tin teapot,
lovelier than a samovar, in the late evening light,
hot tannin-tainted liquid scalded soft tissues
in her thirsty mouth, and teased her palate
to seek and savour a second cup.
The strongest brew she’d ever known
to pass her parched lips. His breath
wafted lemon-sharp on her face, and traced
kisses from lashes to mouth, racing down neck
to belly, Venus mound to thighs, waiting, brewing.
by Ceinwen Haydon
- Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in 2017. She believes everyone’s voice counts.
- Ceinwen can be found on her Twitter: @CeinwenHaydon & On her Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/ceinwen.haydon