Poems from In The Dangerous Cloakroom

Wedding Day

The lilies are about to scream.
It will be clear, strident like the call
of white exotic birds who trail
green tails in still, still waters.

Their lips are curled
but florists’ scissors snipped
their stamens out so all the guests
in pristine suits can brush
against them without risk.

The lilies are about to scream.
Their mouths yawn; tongueless
all the fire is gone. Permitted
lilies scented to no end. Like
yolkless eggs, tall candles
without wicks. Satin will shrivel
now the bells are mute.

First published in Orbis #118, Autumn 2000

The Pond

The heart had already gone out of our house
the summer you dug the pond. Day after day,
driving the old spade into clay,
bare-backed, your white limbs twitching
on the parched lawn, carving a womb.

I fought with dough in the dead kitchen:
brown bread for you, white for me.
We never ate together. You’d break pieces
from your loaf before it cooled – your usual
hurry to be somewhere else.

I wished the words the priest had made me say
unspoken, as I pressed the pill marked Thursday
from the packet. Standing beside the bed
I could not look out at the unfilled pond.

Empty of you, I pace through the rooms
on the upper floors. So many rooms
without a nursery air.

First published in Other Poetry Volume II #15