It’s the black and white, those minor chords,
that zither refrain, the avenue of poplar,
slash of scissors behind shower curtains,
or the night cutlery clattered from the tea stand
and alien ants scuttled from the pit.
She’ll never get the stench of Andrzei Wajda’s shit
from her nostrils, forever crawling
through Warsaw sewers with survivors.
There is no escape. Next time, there’s
always a next time; it’ll be her turn.
Bogies should stay behind the screen,
not the living room, not bedroom corners;
defeated by plucky chaps who empty tunnels
from trouser legs, rescued by wonder-horses,
called Champion. Only her faithful cat
can save her from the downstairs yells.
Two ladybirders gaze at distant shapes.
Oo are they wigeon? Nah, tis just more
o’ they greylags. Wherewuzit we didn’t
see oystercatchers Pam? Wuz the tide wrong?
A man dressed like a mallard:
russet cords, teal jacket,
holds forth about bittern, plying us
with his endless gifts of information.
Couples flock along the path
gather for the Sunday starling roost,
their necks decked with lenses,
backpacks filled with flasks and fruitcake.
Nah! Got the road wrong. T’wuz disappointin mind;
like them ‘oliday brochures what make places
seem fabalous, but when you do get there
they’re not; bit like life really.
The first day, forty bin-bags filled
with serviettes, sugar-sachets, plastic spoons,
pinched from Asda. That was just the kitchen.
Bedroom drawers, stuffed
with brand new towels, gloves, cardigans
bargains, he insisted, had them ages.
Sixty pairs of shoes, fifty ties
two double-wardrobes of suits
he altered to fit himself.
Ten spare pairs of spectacles
twelve extra hearing aids
a carrier bag of tiny batteries.
On the thirtieth day – a final sweep.
Above the wardrobe shelf, the secret shelf,
for his credit cards, was empty.
Then – another shelf, above the other shelf,
I used a grabber to sweep it; fourteen sets
of dentures tumbled round my head.
That day, a black sea of eighty bin-bags
on the service balcony. I thought of men
in Africa, wearing his eyes, ears and teeth.
Of my Mother, all that remained:
a vanity case, a hairbrush, a few nighties.
He sold her platinum rings for vitamins.
Rachael Clyne lives in Glastonbury and performs at venues in the southwest of the UK. Her collection, Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams, 2014), won the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize. Anthologies: The Very Best of 52 (Nine Arches Press, 2015), Book of Love and Loss (Belgrave Press, 2014), Poems for a Liminal Age (SPM Publications, 2015). Magazines: Poetry Space, Reach, Domestic Cherry, Tears in the Fence, The Interpreters House.