Annest Gwilym – four poems

Five Spice

Outside is not much to see:
pavement studded with fag ends
from the pub next door;
rosettes of chewing gum in bloom.

The daffodil-yellow sign:
Chan’s Fish & Chips Chinese Takeaway.
Perfume of five spice, refried fat
and blackbean sauce drifts from the open door;

inside, a red and gold money cat waves hello.
Fish swim endless circuits in a bowl,
copper flashes to bring gold,
while a silver Buddha watches.

Silence is punctuated by the hiss of chips frying,
groan of a bus at the stop outside.
He translates my order into calligraphy
while a single damp feather of hair

falls over his forehead in the heat.
Deftly manoeuvres food
from a small white bowl into his mouth
with chopsticks, a snatched meal

handled as precisely as an artist.
Packs my meal for one, smiles,
says ‘Thank you, lady.’ The steaming
parcel like a warm hand in mine.


A Beginning, An End

She arrives at St Paul’s in a fairytale carriage
filled with a froth of ivory silk and antique lace.
Where the hell’s my dinner?

The door opens, she emerges like a butterfly
but her long silk train is crumpled, an old newspaper.
You’re never bloody here, you’re always in the pub!

Face down, she steps out, nimbus-veiled,
and glances up from under her fringe.
Do you blame me with all your nagging!

Slowly she walks up the steps,
taffeta ripples behind her in a wake.
Come on girls, pack your things, we’re leaving!

Euphoric crowds scream as the jewelled tiara
catches the light like broken glass.
But we haven’t seen her face yet.


across the road is a house I watch

where men come and go
stay an hour or so
young old fat thin
there are four some afternoons

today one came early paced the sea wall
each man slides in straight after the other
her skin still smeared with sweat from the last one

blinds are drawn day doesn’t break there
house full of the smell of strangers
bedsheets crusty with sex

she fakes orgasms like a porn star
puts on a different carnival mask
to suit each customer

I study her face for signs
but she looks down at the floor
or up at the sky
one day she is gone


Dead eyes of my street’s windows

dark or shuttered, hide strangers
who move in for a year or two,
go from car to front door,
don’t say hello, move on.

At night, the only motion is that of cats
intent on a rat or competitor,
in alleys where trash festers
beside sour cracks and corners,

lit by jaundice-yellow sodium light.
The rhythm of my neighbours’ lives,
those strangers, vibrates through the wall
and is condensed to the thump of bass,

whine of Chris de Burgh,
percussion of a washing machine,
a distortion of human voices –
the only ones I may hear for days.


Annest Gwilym lives in North Wales, near the Snowdonia National Park. She is a native Welsh speaker. Her writing is often neurotic, obsessive, disturbing and uncanny. Her work has been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. She has been placed, highly commended and shortlisted in several writing competitions in recent years. She was the winner of firstwriter.com’s Fifteenth International Poetry Competition 2015/16. Her interests include beach-combing for that elusive chunk of ambergris, and making her own jewellery, which she sells.

Annest Gwilym – three poems

Milk

This weather reminds me of you:
wind and rain whistle down
the alleyway, tear leaves from trees,
cement salt onto windows,
send tin cans scudding down streets
with a jarring metallic scrape.

Nights of deserted windblown
encounters in dreary seaside towns:
posters torn, lights blinking, litter flying
in drizzled air, empty but for a hint
of fish and chips, seaweed, beer
and Wish You Were Here.

I remember a boy with skin like milk,
the taste of freshly baked bread,
chestnut hair falling into his eyes,
charm of a John Lennon smile;
dark eyes on white made this place
an Arcadia of cheek and jaw.

I was the shy new girl he chose,
16 and green, dazzled by headlights.
We skipped school for the sand dunes,
the river, the back of his father’s van;
the pine tree’s bark a tattoo on my spine.

Then the eyes always looking
for other beauty, greater loveliness.
I left you but I didn’t forget you,
my boy with skin like milk;
you were the yardstick others
never measured up to.

And now I hear of your early death,
a light goes out, the colours fade,
the milk sours.


The Greenhouse

At the top of the field
a room of wood and glass
that holds wonders.

Air heavy with earth and growth,
sun-born globes red as rubies
hang like baubles.

They leave a tang on the hands
and juice down the chins
of little thieves –

pick the bottom ones or those
hidden behind sticky leaves,
the smallest are the sweetest.

Grown by hands calloused
with use, earth-furrowed:
my grandfather’s green thumbs.


The Fox Road

After a month of sun and rain
grasses grow waist-deep,
downy with dandelion seeds
furring edges into soft focus.

The lizard basks and the adder
makes arcane trails through long grass
on warm dry crumbs of earth.
White butterflies dip and drink

from buddleia holding its lilac
candles to bright thick air.
By the oak trellised with ivy
the fox road into woods.

Here they are now building houses,
a crop of square concrete foundations.
Uprooted trees gape like hastily
pulled-out teeth, and at night

ghosts of lizards and adders
and butterflies parade, while phantom
lilacs wave in dusty air, and foxes
stalk the shrinking woods.


Annest Gwilym lives in North Wales, near the Snowdonia National Park in the UK. Her writing has been published in a number of literary magazines including Ariadne’s Thread, The Cannon’s Mouth, The Journal and on writersbillboard.net. A couple of her poems were published in the Templar anthology Mill in November 2015. She has received three ‘Special Commendations’ and one ‘Shortlisted’ in writing competitions in recent years. Also, she was the runner-up in the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2015, for short fiction.