Caroline Am Bergris – three poems

Athanasia

That will be me

in a hovercar boot sale
two hundred years hence.

A middle-aged woman
with red curly hair,
smelling of vanilla musk,
setting out her stall
of curios and books.

A girl
with smudged mascara
flicking through a yellowed volume
of Sara Teasdale poems

out of which quietly falls
A4-sized printouts
of Asda online shopping orders.

On the back
are notes for poems
from an untidy fountain pen:

attempted assonances crossed out;
lists of Googled synonyms;
experiments with line
length.

They will be me.


Promised Land

We rot
in brownfield relationships
vacant of respect,
rust-coloured contempt
contaminating scrub,
habit hanging
like a hole-ridden fence,

because we see a clump of verdancy
on the spoil tip,
love and kindness poking
like rosebay and dandelions
from poor soil,

convincing us
things can be good,
that this tiny patch
is how the site can be, really is,
if only the derelict buildings
could be demolished,
the waste cleared.

Not noticing the expanse
– vast, abandoned,
melting into the horizon –

we kneel on the gravel,
inhale pollutants,
stare desperately at petals.


The Phone

She screamed to the woman,
“he’s not breathing!”

I was more used to hearing his screams
during the four long years of his life

-beaten in the front room
or thrown on the ground.

Worse were silences
-locked in the box,

shivering, starving, unconscious
after she tried to drown him.

I flinched when those hands
gripped me,

laughing and talking to friends, high
on amphetamines, drink, a mother’s power.

I longed
for his little hands to pick me,

call for help,
but he didn’t know how.

Social workers sometimes came –
I watched their belief,

told of eating disorders, clumsiness.
They could not ask me.

Now I can do nothing as she acts
for the ambulance centre,

knowing that my boy has already gone
-a final blow to his head.

But I feel guilty. Because
I knew.


Caroline Am Bergris has been a musical director in the theatre, a trainer in communication strategies, a stand-up comedian and a Phd Theology student. She is physically disabled after an accident, has suffered domestic abuse and has lived on the streets of London following bouts of severe mental illness. She has been mentored by Cinnamon Press and has been published by several other journals.

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