Helen Freeman – three poems

In Transit

Airline tags hang on her freckled life
frayed with the residue of passage.
She empties her clutch bag, clatters
the tabletop with ghosts of presence:
a fingerprint, a strawberry-blond hair.
Pared down to her skinny nub, you might
find a mango stone from an obscure shore,
in need of prolonged soaking, trying to root.

She’ll be off again to the surge of the wind,
her passport bulging, her blisters leaking.
Maybe she’ll raise a toast some day
to a new home, but she’ll be turning
strange keys, doubtful if she can
remember her way back.

The Rock

The clunk of the rock tied to your ankle,
homespun traction, raised and lowered, draws me
onto the stone floor to watch. Rising sun
paints golden freckles on your injured knee,
rugby’s legacy. Desert boots fastened,

I follow you to work, onto my perch,
scrubbed with antiseptic soap, observing
as you hunch over patients, so focused.

Ring-necked doves welcome the night’s arrival.
I snuggle into your lap of stories,
Old Spice-scented hugs enfold me, salty tang
of day’s labour, our knees bent, giving thanks.
The brylcreem’s worn off and Mum stretches out
to coax your remaining strands into place.

Now here you are again, emboldening
me to let go of my zimmer and sway
across the decades into your open
arms, rock-like, steady, still held out for me.

At the keyhole of the master bedroom

Your top a t-shirt two sizes too big,
mango-stained, with the hem unravelling
into an ample skirt and pockets
most likely full of bees and glossy starlings.
From this angle, from the secrecy,
with Liquorice Allsorts (here, take one!)
you are a queen, dispensing
perfume, knighthoods, world peace.

I watch you prop your royal sceptre
in a bucket of Dettol bubbles and lean over
to pick a lipstick from my mother’s drawer.
You scrunch up your face like a rabbit,
your cracked lips and fingers smudge with mulberry.
From this angle, from the secrecy,
with aniseed breath (go on, have another!)
I can only imagine the scent of Chanel
on your walnut skin.

Helen Freeman published a collection of poems, Broken (AuthorHouse UK, 2011), in the recovery time following a severe road traffic accident in Oman. Since then she has completed several online poetry courses including ModPo and the Poetry School. A Third Culture Kid brought up in Kenya, she now lives in both Edinburgh and Riyadh.


2 thoughts on “Helen Freeman – three poems

  1. E.E. Nobbs October 18, 2016 / 3:13 pm

    Three fine poems.Find the father one especially moving. And it’s a treat to hear Helen read them.


    • Helen Freeman October 27, 2016 / 3:10 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind comment


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