I sit in the kitchen
in a yellow-striped dress
with deep pockets
thrusting my hands deep, there is string,
a pin, garden wire and three sweet-pea seeds.
I sit sullen like a child.
On the table a rough grey
plate with flecks of blue and four
chocolate dainty cakes
and five of us in this house.
Cheryl can’t stand it any longer,
the ewes calling for the lambs.
All day was bad enough, but moving
on the edges of sleep, she counts the bleats,
frantic, the milk twitching at teats.
She can feel it, needing the pull and pull,
the milk’s steady pulse beating,
mild woolly agony on and on, until
almost silent, one mother – it would be her –
never giving up, running back and forth
through the hedge gaps. Searching,
wild as a wolf howling for the moon.
The double glazing cannot shut it out.
Too raw-skinned on council estate gravel,
Cheryl turns her face from the moles’
fly-blown purses strung along the fence.
Tells him she wants to go home.
Cattle Lorry Lover
You meet me in the lay-by by Ludlow
on the A49. Is it my heart
or the restlessness of the cattle,
stomping and steaming piss in the back?
You kiss my breasts,
sucking at the nipples,
whilst calves from their mothers
are forced to wait
for my breathing to calm.
Their eyes startle and I climb down,
get back into my Volvo estate.
They sway away
and my breasts’ milk drips.
Caradoc Coaches, day-trip trap trip trap
over the bridge
to Llanbister, to Lyn Gwynant,
bridges of devils and the coach put put
so slow, slow as red kites
whooshing the wind
to the water
like the road to elsewhere.
Where I might step from the green bus
and wander off past the shelter’s red painted
Anwen Price is a Slut
to climb up past the peckled rocks there
and as the bus dreeps to the distance
take off my shoes to press my bare feet
my head to the sheep-bitten grass
so tight it is so pillow soft
When You’re Ready, the Right Man will Come Along
Taking my cup of tea back to bed this morning,
the air was still,
but I could just see, obliquely,
the telegraph wire stretched across the street
vibrating and sagging
What bloody heavy sodding bird is that?
and just as I thought it
there came into view
a man all in green and sparkling,
legs all slim and toes all pointy,
pole all shaky,
slinking along it, shoulders broad
and fine, strong thighs
pinging and stretching like the wire.
He caught my eye and grinned.
I nodded but didn’t want to distract him,
so slid beneath the covers.
When I came up for air he had gone.
Later, taking my re-usable bag to the Co-Op,
I found green sequins scattered in the street.
Francine started to use rear-view mirrors
for walking. To start with she bound
a Halford’s Basic Bike, round and round
with tape to her left arm, found
it made her arm ache, stopped the blood,
didn’t go far enough, left a blind spot
on the right hand side.
And so she tried convex, concave,
adjustable arms and Mini mirrors
stitched to her cardi’s, but they sagged
and all was distorted in the glass.
She saw only her arse, the grey pavement,
and the holes in the road.
Finally, late night blanket stitch,
cross stitch tight, she fastened
white van mirrors,
angel’s wings, into the seams
of her great-coat,
mounted on reinforced shoulder pads
so they wouldn’t rub.
Then they couldn’t sneak up,
she could see them coming.
The Dog Knows its Mistress
Lie across my feet
blue-black dog, warm them.
Bring me coffee in a small cup
and allow me these moments of complaint
where there is no need for complaint,
let my white shoulders sag a little
scratch my back where the bra strap
is too tight and release the clasp
let my breasts sag and sigh out
with a wonder of release
I shall stroke your velvet ears in return
and for what we are about to repeat
may you be truly thankful.
You are the Blue-Black Dog
She sits with her dazzled face lifted skyways
her broad rump comfy on banks of lemon thyme
her arms around her big blue-black dog
that sits, licks at her life, her legs wide as the night,
a ruffle of soft grey frock and stars that sing
of no other time but this – and then a thin white cat
slinks in, lifts its velvet paw up as though
to catch the stars that fuzz the dark landscape
with cross-stitches of white, and the oranges,
three small fruits that hang and wait
for their own art to be peeled back and released.
This country kid in my class
used to take down the soft pelts from the farmers’ fences,
cut off their little heads
and thread them on strings to dry.
then, with mother-of-pearl tweezers
and some fine silk, make zips
from the teeth, a long mole smile he would stitch
into mole skin pencil cases.
Sometimes, as a good luck charm,
there’d be a head, a little dead mole head,
The heat in the classroom that summer
and the smell of the poems in pencil.
Versions of One Mother, Cattle Lorry Lover, When You’re Ready, the Right Man will Come Along, Troll & Writing Poems have all been published in True Tales of the Countryside published by The Emma Press and available here: