I have a birthday this week. Birthdays are mainly something to be ignored except for the fact that they tend to involve good food. Once, when I had a large garden, I frequently received plants as gifts. There was a time when it was often a tree. Now, with just a small balcony, that is no longer the case but this year Mum apparently couldn't resist and I got an early birthday surpise-this pot of violet alstroemeria (which my spell checker wants to change to astrolabe).
I have begun a painting of Mum, but progress is slow since my brain is more interested in writing at the moment. Actually it can't stop, so last night while trying to get to sleep it spewed out several first draft poems. Now I shall inflict them on you all because I am generous like that.
Oh hey, look, I still wear clothes and here is a picture to prove it. Also, I still have mushroom-hair days. Especially when I attempt to straighten it with the hairdryer. This is a very wild outfit by my standards. All that colour and pattern. Mum says she is surprised.
Miss Mathilda is not very impressed.
We disagree about which of us came up with doorway posing first.
If you hate my poetry, stop here.
Jazz Night at the Cafe
A syncopated infection invades my body and the symptoms
include persistent twitching.
Toes tap, hips waggle and sway
Doing the vinyl seat boogie.
I am plucked like the strings of the base viol
and I cha-chaka, cha-chaka, cha with the drums.
I say it apologetically, whisper it, I like literature
Wince and shrug
Someone says she just likes to read stories, you know,
Be entertained. She doesn’t want to have to think.
And I am certain then that I must be pretentious.
Someone else approaches and asks me have I read
(insert name of major literary work here) and I say,
Umm, well no, I have not gotten to that one yet.
Wince and shrug
Clearly I am an imposter. A poseur.
I love literature but I don’t believe in reading something
I am not interested in reading.
No longer a student for marks and grades, I close a book
that does not hold me captive. Ulysses.
Did James Joyce wince and shrug?
I read for fun, they tell me. I like to be entertained.
Who doesn’t? I think. But now I can’t say it, can’t say-
Oh the highbrow stuff entertains me-the smart stuff.
Thinking is fun,
Wince and shrug.
Unspoken thoughts in the other’s mind: What else do you do for fun, scrub toilets?
A salad is so much work for what you get.
Washing, chopping, shredding, tossing,
Half an hour to make, ten minutes to eat
Hungry again an hour later.
I walk into the cafe
And stride straight to my favourite corner
My corner-only someone else is there before me
Claimed it for herself.
Momentarily I hesitate and then take
The table right next to hers
A large empty room and two women are
Unspeakingly pressed into the corner.
Eventually, perhaps half an hour later
We share a bond of sisterhood-sitting on this vinyl bench
The sisterhood of the corner-leaning back against the wall
Eventually she speaks to me.
It’s just a comment or two, a friendly
understanding, we will think the same way
She leans toward me conspiratorially
whispers her thoughts as I smile and nod.
Later, when she leaves, she is compelled
to say goodbye to me, her old friend
her corner sister.
Your words seemed more powerful than mine.
More accurate, assured and they crowded my head
leaving no room for my own and when your words
are out in the world, who is going to listen to mine?
My words buzz and whine in my ear
Around my head, mosquitos of thought
Cars ‘round a racetrack-crash and burn,
tires spinning, I lie awake and think of metaphors.
The heartbreaking loyalty of dogs
Eager to please
Desirous of your love and
Giving, giving giving-no matter how ill used.
That’s why I am a cat person.
The way of dogs is all too painfully familiar.
Black and White
Powerful predators, high-pitched chitter
a tin-flute sound that brings feathered death.
Soaring in circles, taught-winged grace,
riding the wind and watching for dinner in the water below.
A cacophony of crows’ hack-sawing voices
shriek from the trees as they send out their
mobbing-calls: Back Off they scream
issuing threats and posturing brazenly.
White hatted eagle, black hatted crow
no clues here about good and bad- it is all about perspective.
Just ask the salmon. Just ask the sparrow.
A broken bird lies on the highway
Twitching, not yet dead.
We approach at speed directed
By the signs
And there is only time to react with horror
At the sight of suffering,
To know the car will pass clean over-
The body untouched by its wheels
And that really, somebody should
Have the courage to run the wheels right over it.