The Honey Jar
It squats in a cupboard like a stopwatch –
the apiarist’s last jar of honey, immune to winters.
The cold days we ached for spoonfuls of summer
to glide down our throats. I carry it, fingers
on glass clouding an hour my father stood still,
fitted by the grist for a moving fur coat.
He moved those frames like still lives of himself.
I recall him as I lift the lid, a compass of drips
stuck on one day I saw the man on his knees.
The hive scumbled in static, dead for no reason
we could understand, he brought an orange bucket
and scooped up fistfuls of bees, a sound soft
as chrysanthemums falling off the stem
in the not quite autumn sun. I open my mouth
and let a viscous rain of things I’d forgotten fall.
Knuckles buried in hush, suddenly so small
for a man of his size, pale as china hands
holding on to scraps of August’s dusk.
I am against youth, not yours, not you,
but my own, a bleached scrap hung
on a nail on my door, lilaced by dusk.
Too often it pretends to be a woman
in the dark, snooping for her tall shoes
to attend a dance. I am sick of forgetting
that, in fact, we did not dance, she and I,
or sip cherry cola with a shared straw.
There was no poetry at all, but a snare
in our chests, a pop of music we made
loud enough not to hear our own voices
flinging us off another cliff. I am done
being persuaded to cling to youth.
To hold her hand is to skin myself to fit
into a dress that didn’t suit me to start with.
I see that lady out, draw a blind on her eyes
set on some dusty horizon. Let her run, let me
stay in, paper my walls with any creature
I like. I choose sparrows. I choose
to paint my sunrise all over the bricks
with colours I mixed in my own can.
Angela Readman’s poems have been in various journals and anthologies, and won competitions including The Mslexia Competition. The Essex Poetry Prize, and The Charles Causley. Her collection, The Book of Tides, was published by Nine Arches Press in November 2016. She is also a short story writer.