All entries for Wednesday 14 March 2007

March 14, 2007

Sonnets and Photographs

Sonnets and Photographs.

In blue fleeces and stripy, red all-in-ones,
You lay in your cot, gurgling in your sleep.
The shoelace, washed-out yellow, has begun
To come undone, and I can perhaps peek
The pink of your cotton-wool soft baby skin
That I tickle with the tip of my finger,
So you squirm and giggle, and blink, and grin
And chortle as I hold Baba up, and linger.
The photograph stands on the cluttered table
In our parent’s room, and we laugh, unable
To stop teasing for your embarrassed stance,
Your cherry-red cheeks and forgetful hands.

Aged two and you are angry.
Your hands playing absently
With the gorse-bush by your side,
As you search for the missing photographer.

But your pose is lost as your finger stings,
Your face creases into an age that even
Our grandfather cannot imitate, and tears
Run down your crumpled cheeks.

Told you so, told you so! Your howls
Are bat-like in the lunchtime air,
And you stamp your hush-puppy foot
Into the springy, unyielding heather.

You were heavy in my lap and my collar itched.
You wiggled and I wished Mummy would pick you up
And forgive me the failure of this duty.
You’re big sister. Which meant I had to hold you,
Tight and close for the endless minutes.
Don’t you look pretty together? The woman keened,
And I wanted to hit her. Don’t you look alike.
He’s drooling onto my hand, and I cannot wipe it.
The flash illuminates the room, and you blink,
Threaten to scream. So I loosed my hold,
Tickle your chest. Your scream turns to a chuckle,
And I smile, as again – the camera flashes.

St Mark’s Square and it is after midnight;
Tired and aching we ask for water.
They bring us bottles with tiny pieces of lemon
That flicker in the too-clean glasses.
San Marco, San Marco! You crow,
Imitating the boatmen calling
From the other side of the plaza,
Where the pigeons coo with their heavy stomachs.
Come on you two, Mum says, pose.
Ever confident, you sling your arm around my shoulders.
We look younger, fresher than we were,
Our eyes dance like the candles in the summer night.

Of you, and of Notre Dame,
Sat quietly on the Seine that
Whistles, begging for pennies for luck
And the I can promise you…
Your eyes are bluer than the midnight water
And they fix on me and smile.
Against the old church you seem smaller
And your broad hands impermanent.
The cameras flash and the mummers continue,
And you grab our father’s hand as you jump
from the boat, and as you swing from a lamppost,
the bell starts to chime, silencing you.

My Winter Skin

My winter skin.

I thought it would be easier to stop talking about you.
That I could sew together my lips
with iron-like thread,
tie a not, elaborate
(like a kite’s tail) at one end
and give myself a lopsided,
out of place look.

But although I could not speak,
I could see and every time I saw your
over-done hair, I would blink.
The pain would be terrifying,
as I attempted to pry apart my chapped,
bleeding lips.

My lips betrayed you,
betrayed the way you’d sing in the car,
and laugh whenever silence fell.
Torn, they would murmur,
and I would listen through the dark fuzz of childhood.

My hands wandered, lost and alone,
and I could not match them with yours.
They were irritated, and blushed with scratching;
I would not sit still,
unless to pin them beneath me,
imagine they were glass.

But then I saw you.
Superman-like, you streamed into my vision,

- the stitches dissolved.

But my lips have been closed for so long,
that it hurts to open them,
and people stared as I tried to utter your name.

My little brother.

Away from home,
I had forgotten your smile,
and the way your hands
rubbed your knees,
until your jeans were worn thin.
The way you walked,
heel-toe, heel-toe,
and looked over your shoulder.

My voice has died within me and my lips are scared;
my hands are peeling,
a new skin is struggling to grow.

But you smile, and pass me tea,
and tell me it’s winter.
you show me your palms,
turned to the table light,
and I see that they too have lost their first, summer skin.

March 2007

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