Friday 12 January 2024

Five Poems by Wendy Webb

 




DEVELOPMENTS

Love came late, so planning for the baby, meticulously wanted,

prepared through miscarriage, hope fizzing fireworks-bright

until that moment of perfection in soft-lit room. Nurses gasping

at precision-little fingers and toes. Filmset-lighting and crowds,

legs in stirrups for Ventouse-suction (stretched out head).

Brand new baby seat/baby books/breast is best; waving, like the Queen.

 

Mother and Toddler group, one Thomas Tank, homes with glass tables;

Nursery, pre-School; Bedlam adventure ball-pool. Children fun-filled,

happy, ignoring, interacting, cruising, climbing, falling, clingy, vocal.

Mums chatting, mums socialising; mums giggling, mums sharing;

mums relaxing with coffee, cake. Longing for wine and sleep time.

Running, screeching, crashing, tumbling, giggling, ignoring, snatching.

 

Beatific smile, blond hair, blue eyes, Icarus-bold and bollocking

Normalcy of peer-pleasing and thanking, sitting, passing (parcel or pen,

Play-doh or paintbrushes). Ready for Nursery; socially trained, reading,

chatting, quietly waiting instruction. Except for messy square pegs

in round holes (called seats, tables, classrooms, teachers, silence).

No God-squad, priests. The parade of Educational Psychologists…

 

One day, a full Children’s Hospital to play with; lengthy corridors,

medications that failed, nurses exhausted, Mum comatose, time-slot

missed. Awaiting tests; last-minute rescheduling of electrodes worn

inside a swimming cap. Rising, like the Zombie-dead, as doctor tested.

Night-night, David!’ Persuaded to ignore grown-up packed room.

Diagnosis. Prognosis. Further tests. Hope; education; intelligence.

 

Settled down to normalcy, learning, reading, mathematical genius,

Top score spellings, awards. Social Services kicked in, support, carers.

Family-time precision-planned to avoid entrances/departures; trashing

beyond a typical family’s wildest nightmares. Until that day, that year,

away from home (in Special School, residential), teenage hormones raged.

Self-harm, suicide-attempts, sleep-deprivation, inappropriate-online places.

 

Heavy-duty (highly-trained professionals in safeguarding and self-preservation),

before BTEC beckoned. A clutch of GCSE’s beyond wildest late dreams.

College, learning to drive, Student of the Term, Student of the Year,

Triple A distinction (Computer Games Design). University beckoned.

Five weeks’ independence: pre-Drinks, Nightclubs, new trainers, SU Card.

After midnight, Mum and Dad wide-eyed deep-breathing. Downstairs. Burglar?

 

Two police officers. Named, in full. Location. Son. Why scream and shout?

Autistic adult. One year later – the Inquest – no-one to blame. Misunderstood…

 



PUT ON YOUR DANCING SHOES, HONEY


My sister was born for the Swinging Sixties,

while I remember Sugar, Sugar, fascinated by the jingle

on TV. But in those heady days, when Yarmouth, maybe,

was ‘Great’; Dad broke down on the Acle Strait, towed

onto the campsite opposite a Funfair. What a holiday!

My sister’s hand-me-downs, in the fabric of my being:

reading Jane Eyre (definitely more self than sibling);

playing Bachelor Boy and Dancing Shoes until fandom

(for me) was Cliff Richard and Country & Western…

Not a great start for a poet. She moved on to Rolling Stones

and David Bowie. So when I say she was far too old (grown-up)

to hand-me-down her boyfriends (the Judo man who was gay,

the one that ran faster than my Dad, the one into cranes), skies

and seas and flowers breathed me creative (men could wait).

When I say my sister wore miniskirts and killer heels,

holidayed in Blackpool, and wouldn’t be seen dead with poetry;

you understand, don’t you? I moved on to Bob Dylan and Leonard

Cohen; James Blunt, Ed Sheeran, the Beatles. Later, much too late.

My sister delivered a strapping baby boy, that year we dallied

in the delights of Great Yarmouth (Dad rushing frantic to buy

a piston for his rumbling Combo). 1965, the year I returned

to school, declaring myself an Auntie. Never considered

hand-me-down boyfriends; my sister told Dad, ‘That’s him.’

Round the last corner; ran faster than my Dad. Last I heard…

Except, I could name most of her future boyfriends; nephews

too. No hand-me-down place though; to lay flowers.

Oh, yes, I remember the Swinging Sixties: my sister was just

sweet sixteen. I’ve loved Yarmouth since the RAC towed us back

to the campsite; the family in the next tent with five Alsatians.

Spent up on the Funfair on day one. Two weeks let loose

at the seaside; while Dad trawled for spare parts.

So pleased, my choice in man was no hand-me-down.

            Oh, Honey, Honey…

 


PAGE, PAGE AGAINST THE LYING SCREENS OF NIGHT (Villanelle)

 

Do rot so gently when it seems quiet right,

bold rage would turn or bravely choose sweet May;

page, page amongst the lying screens of night.

 

Trough miser mates then bend flow larks to sight,

recoursing birds that raucous sparklings say

do rot so gently when it seems quiet right.

 

Moody, then, last grave dug, dying shows sprite

where trail greedy claws prance within dream play,

page, page amongst the lying screens of night.

 

Mild women taught and rang flash eyes brash bright,

land earned as slate, that greased roofs dry as clay,

do rot so gently when it seems quiet right.

 

Brave sent, here breath-grown tree withers kind light,

mind lies raze mud spiked meteors ray by ray,

page, page amongst the lying screens of night.

 

Sand too, why mawther hares, gone as mad spite,

worst mess, we vow this poor terse weary spray:

do rot so gently when it seems quiet right,

page, page amongst the lying screens of night.

 

 

WHO COOKS, WHO PLAYS, WHO CAPSIZES?

 

If studying Classical Greek taught correct English,

how can one use gender-neutral pronouns precisely?

 

If school cookery taught a mixed grill to sizzle,

how can a pescatarian diet fail to simmer or please?

 

If singing along to Johnny Cash and Victorian hymns,

how is a mother’s love insufficient or dead?

 

If home knitting produced toddler motif jumpers,

how can giving birth silence the clatter-clack of needles?

 

If capsize by first sailing instruction produced near-drowning,

how did a long reach or ready about produce a husband?

 

If GCSE’s prove educational and future success,

how is University Graduation counted in stars?

 

If the earth is perfectly beautiful, nourishing and rich,

how can time run out to redeem the broken?

 


DEATH OF A LITTLE GIRL BY STAGES

 

Understanding Mam, like the French Revolution:

incomprehensible and bloody.

Simply, she’s of her time; her location; her era.

Born the eldest of seven: a girl, mouthy,

to a blind man (basket-weaving);

and a woman struggling with three children,

gave up the fourth for family adoption,

then had another three.

 

At school, big sis told teacher: ‘That’s me Mam.’

Blotted her copy book, that…

 

On the first night of married life,

she flung the ‘You-know-what's under the bed,

called her Dad every name under Apollo

(family planning was off the agenda)

and so, my sister was a honeymoon babe.

Sworn blindly by Dad (Care Home/aged 90).

 

At the Decree Nisi (Absolute?)

the Court kept him in a side room,

as the guilty party made a fast getaway.

Dad swore – he would have bought the man a pint.

 

Understanding my Mam?

Like Adoration of the Magi (a little girl’s perspective).

The child died; I grew up.

 

Wendy Webb loves nature, wildlife, symmetry and form and the creative spark. Published in Reach, Sarasvati, Quantum Leap, Crystal, Dreich, Seventh Quarry, The Journal, The Frogmore Papers, Drawn to the Light; online in Littoral, Lothlorien, Autumn Voices, Wildfire Words, Atlantean, Poetry Kit; broadcast Poetry Place. Forthcoming: Amateur Gardening (14/10/23), Leicester Literary Journal. Book: Love’s Floreloquence; Landscapes (with David Norris-Kay) from Amazon; free downloads of other poetry from Obooko.

Love's Floreloquence: Amazon.co.uk: Webb, Wendy Ann, Meek, CT, Meek: 9798850867003: Books

Landscapes: Amazon.co.uk: Webb, Wendy Ann, Norris-Kay, David, Meek, CT, Meek, Norris-Kay, David: 9798851001659: Books


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