When the Cat Gets My Tongue
I’m tiger-striped – prowling lonely alleys
after dark. Tail high, screw you eyes.
The moon dances to a feral song,
she’s drunk again, tottering into bins
and full of herself, circled by a Tom,
gin-heart and knuckle-tough.
My back arches into a scream,
feline talk for a word between
hurt and joy; translating clouds
into howl, the rustle and shimmy
of branches. I tell you everything
through a gust of night. You hear me
via Venus and the Seven Sisters
under your spotless linen.
Like the ghost who never realised
he was dead, or the unending record
stuck in a groove, or the comedian
who forgot the punchline, or the bud
spoiled by frost, or the last Rolo,
or the half-painted living room,
or Beethoven’s draft of his tenth
chucked out by the cleaner,
or the bottle of fizz never opened
for a special day, or the rainy day
that rained all year. Who’s sadder?
The man waiting at the bar,
or the woman who won’t walk in?
First published in The North.
There was always a Jenny.
Jenny no.1 wore a roll-neck top,
beige and ribbed. She was so quiet
she’s only a face now, unlike
Jenny no.2 who was cuckoo
and told fibs. Her one truth
was that she was adopted
and was moving to Llanelli
which sounded made-up.
Next was Jenny Monaghan,
the talented one who knew
how to Lindy Hop and did so
on Blue Peter. Then Jenny no.4
who didn’t actually exist.
A boy called me Jenny,
at a bus stop in Leamington Spa.
I was so taken aback,
I nodded and rode home
with a different name.
From Instructions for Making Me, HappenStance, 2016
Maria Taylor is a poet and reviewer from Leicestershire. Her first collection, Melanchrini (Nine Arches Press, 2012), was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. Her pamphlet, Instructions for Making Me, came out in 2016 with HappenStance Press. Her poems have been published in a range of magazines including The Rialto, Magma and Ambit. She is Reviews Editor for Under the Radar magazine and blogs at Commonplace.