Tag Archives: mothers

Empty Head

mincemeat2You know what it’s like. When your head draws a blank.

I’ve been kidding myself that I’ve been much too busy to write anything. Too busy clearing leaves from an otherwise trouble free garden. Too busy shovelling horse dung into borders. Too busy tying Quality Street (only the ones they like) onto the brass hoops on the advent ‘calendar’. Too busy Spurfing (that’s Spotify surfing. Nostalgia tripping. Time wasting).

I’ve just been lazy. If I don’t read poetry than I can’t write it and I haven’t read anything for weeks. Not a single verse. Until yesterday. So thanks to Elaine Feinstein and the solidly reliable Elizabeth Bishop for kicking my backside….(And thanks, Spotify for Everything But the Girl. It’s been a long time…)


Making Mincemeat






feint smudged pencil ticks

in the margins

purposeful to the tick tail end.

Glasses slipped, apron flour bleached

and tied where that scoop of flesh met hip.

Gathering raisins, sultanas, almonds, hard crusted peel

lemons, oranges and

too old, oil-skinned Bramleys.

And suet, curded on the chopping board

severed from shining kidney clots, neat in a hand.

And sliding jars to find last year’s spice and

the half grated nutmeg

and the dark muscovado set hard in its bag.


I open her book.

And her pencil marks bring that momentary heave,

that rounded heavy gap.

That swell.

I make my ticks next to hers.







Filed under poems, poetry, writing


There must be some subliminal thing going on, American storms and all that. It’s only now that I’ve realised it as I was screwing up my eyes trying to figure out where this one had sprung from. And it really did happen, the Wigan tornado.


It came at us from across the field

its cobweb strands spinning a furious

whip of leaves and twigs

and stone.

We watched, unmoving and ducked when it hit

and ripped off the soffits and threw them splintered high above the house.


by comparison to the one in Kansas

the one that killed that witch

and all hell broke loose

Her unconvincing feet bent in glittered shoes.

It was at the time he didn’t care

and it was up to you to put it right.

It was a Friday.

I know that because on Fridays

he came home reeking of classrooms and staff rooms,

of chalk and science labs:

of cobalt blue and sulphur yellow,

and instant coffee and the grime of other children.

And he couldn’t wait to wash off this weekday smell

and back out of the drive ’til Sunday.

We watched him go,

even waved

and then breathed again,

mother-daughter arms around waists.

We shut the door,

and phoned the man to fix the soffit.


Filed under poems, poetry, writing

Nursing Home and Nice Roses

The Iceberg roses are beautiful this year.

My┬ámother had a hedge of them in her garden: a mass of white billowy pompoms. I’ve got more than I probably should have in a tiny garden and the delphiniums have taken the brash hump and pushed their way through.

We took a huge bunch of roses to put in my great aunt’s room when she moved into the…

Nursing Home


We put her there when we couldn’t cope,

when she’d tired you to bone.

Not meaning to.


Three years she stayed with us,

snug in that arm chair where she could see you in the garden

and wave,

her hands arthritic gnarled, veins creeping proud violet.

She had her things:

silver hair brush, remote control, Woman’s Own, a box of toffee and

I sat and brushed her hair sometimes and brought her tea.

You heaved her unable body and cleaned her and smoothed on the cream that stopped

the red sores, acid-burned into her skin.


We should have cried at the hallucinations,

the loose-lipped rabid talking without pause,

but she spoke of your childhood:

shoo-ing the geese from the yard, high pitched,

talking gently to the cows

broom in hand, arms outstretched

asking me to close the gate behind them.


We didn’t like sending her away.

Even just for a weekend to your sister

so that you could

just breathe

and sit.


You paced in her empty room and nettled your conscience

and burned cigarette ends into your guilt.


But your colour came back

and your eyes widened to clearness.



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Filed under gardens, oddbods, poems, poetry, writing

Something Missing

Today is the anniversary of my mum’s death, well, it’s actually tomorrow by date, but today is the same day. Twelve years ago. The same sort of a day, too: bright sunshine, milk blue sky. Some years I can manage today without howling too much….Anyhow, this is a joyous poem for Eileen ( I might post the sad one later)….

Evening Garden

I loved those days in autumn when you’d still be out at dusk,

breathing in the last heat,

smelling of green,

delaying dinner.

I’d take you a sherry and you’d take off your gloves.

We smiled at sherry.

We liked its warm descent.

I’d bring the bottle out and a cardi and we’d have another,

resting the bottle on the moss stump.

And we’d talk of plants and soil and muck and weeds

and argue about where best to put the poppies,

the new ones, the ones that shiver at the slightest breath,

petals the colour of old silk knickers.

And the bit we liked best?

The indigo powdered centre, the whorish hidden middle.

I’d leave you, shaded blue against turquoise sky

and I’d hear the clank of tool against wheelbarrow,

tools older than you

oiled and sharpened and cosseted.

I’d hear the shed door close, padlock click

and the blackbirds flicking their song into the evening.

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Filed under gardens, oddbods