So fuck it…dishes, housework, ironing.
I am assaulted by memory,
a trace like a botched colouring book,
over the lines.
There is my messy mother and my tidy aunt.
There is the glittering distance between them.
There is my tongue trying to articulate a thread.
My aunt used to iron sheets, teatowels,
hankys corner to corner,
chittering like a fantail about the weather
and her unkempt neighbours.
She used to empty ashtrays before
my mother’s ash landed.
My aunt was loving, strict,
fattened us with huge cakes full of raisins
that turned my mother’s topaz eyes,
My aunt filled the air with her imperatives.
My aunt would run her finger along the top
of my mother’s curtains, take a moral inventory
and pull one of those faces
My mother would light another cigarette
even though the one she had
was burning. She’d pour a sherry
well before five pm, swig it violently
and chuck a heap of lamb chops in a pan.
Turn them to charcoal.
My mother laughed at life.
My aunt had plastic covers on her furniture.
She sent us outside.
My mother invited us in…to trampoline her couch to death.
She wanted a new one.
My mother shoved a jumble of mixed linens
into her cupboard,
swept dust underneath.
We could never find anything.
So fuck the dishes…I see where that came from
in my own resolutions, although my mother
would never have said it like that.
She preferred the garden, her paints,
the grand piano, a long soak in a soapy bath,
in a wash of love.
I am in the garden up to my knees in mud and hopeful plants.
Fuck the house itself, it’s a roof, it’s walls and floors.
It’s good enough. It’s not a mythic dream
nor has it swallowed
our small swamp of coins.
I am dealing with life’s overload
backed up like a full revving truck,
deaths, abortions, miscarriages, my husband’s parkinson's
An incomplete inventory of wishes.
A range of abuses of women I love
by men I love no longer.
Howling into other’s misfortunes, ignoring my own,
my tongue wringing itself out for poems,
can’t save myself never mind
the roar and hiss of ocean.
Fuck the folding-neatly-and-putting-away of the laundry, too.
I have other things scrambled in my mouth
a blur of alphabet. Apologies to make,
I don’t mean to be mean.
Only when the trace is grasped and the outline thickens,
when what I imagine overtakes what actually happened.
Only if the wild spirit of a poem
pushes in like a brat
and asks for it.