Two Poems

Claire Crowther

Once Troublesome

Let them call her a wicked old woman! She knew she was no such thing.

Vita Sackville-West, All Passion Spent

It isn’t New Year yet so Happy What?
Till then, it’s Boxing Day every morning.
Empty bags hang off the radiators.
Chilly: hot
                      cold
                                 Cordelia position.
                      Did it mean
we didn’t love each other
that morning he gave me up
though that same night he said, ‘Let’s marry?’
           My striped dress hung
                      along my body
                                 bounced
                      boldened
                      bitmapped
my abdomen as I walked, a balloon
                      sinking back down
                      its own string
           after the decision.
The baby would have had to sleep in a drawer.
                                 Immortalists
(not you who refuse to believe improbable notions)
think:
           the smallest            cell refuses to die
           in its everness.
Now I live in an attic
garden is the chewed melon skin of sky.
Old bins, old books. Death’s hardly ethical
in the light of such continuity. Last week,
the CEO of a charity named in my will
wrote to suggest ways to retrieve what I’ve lost.
Look, Christmas photos
           of others’ other
                      children. After
                                 Pocoyo, Juggling Balls.

A Seafront Wake for the Postwar

The ruin on the island keeps away fragmented steps,
shoulder bone of upper-storey arch, lady chapel, rank
of skinned arms cracked at the wrist.

New houses creep near like animals listening to the old –
Teach Me Tonight – magnified through a trumpet
fixed to the motherboard.

My time was blonde scraped up in a froth. Now our white hair
is arranged against purple. From birth, the agenda of regeneration
confuses us. Skip it.

I read future time by Attlee as surely as if those clock hands beamed
on the wake wall from a light disguised as a camera are snapping
facts. All of it is skin

though now it shakes loose of flesh, once stock still like rock inside.
An old man’s hands flick his horsetail metres.
The wind turbines rush round.

Pat’s been a Samaritan since July. My new man has a boat.
Sea gatefolds each page of wave and tears.
The struggle is over.