By Pauline Hawksworth
The size of the bee scouting
outside the kitchen window
is a pear-drop, baby mouse
or full-sized vole; something
the earth rolled and gave wings;
pinned graciously so that it
could float the air on this fresh
spring morning, a Thursday,
its awakening promenade;
a day of glinting sunlight.
The colour, a small black sun-
edged thunderous cloud poised
over the top of a far mountain,
an impossible collision of honeyed
rain and rigid acceptance.
The bee, released from its nest
wearing wedding-rings around
its fluffy body, slowly emerged
from dreams of dancing and flirting
insider the necks of flowers.
wished the kitchen window stretched
as wide as an ocean so that I could
find out where it travelled in this
half-sprung state of waking.
Snarl up at the cemetery
by Christine Buxton
There’s a snarl up at the cemetery,
all the cars are stationary –
blue Ford Focus going nowhere;
white Sierra saloon at a standstill;
black Passat estate
with a lab and a corgi cross,
noses fogging up the glass
and tails wagging in the boot,
in front of a little red mini
with a go-faster stripe idling behind
a handy-man-van with a white-van-man and his wife
and a girl hidden by a pink bouquet in the front.
The Mercedes with the wreath of red roses
taking up the whole of the passenger seat,
that’s causing the jam,
can’t turn around, it’s a narrow path,
and can’t go back,
being unable to see out
because of all the tears.
The Merc came the wrong way round
the one way system
as grief takes you in not so
unexpected ways on Mothers’ Day.
But none of the cars is beeping
and white-van-man’s wife
and Passat-estate-man are out
offering to help
and the 30-something-singleton (no ring)
from the mini
has her arm round Mercedes lady,
so I carry on to visit Dad because Mum’s still going strong.
By Jacqueline Woods
At 4am I stand outside
My mother’s bedroom
And listen to her talking.
These are not the disjointed
Ramblings of befuddled sleep,
There is eloquence,
Purity in performance,
Confidence in every syllable she speaks.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way
They stretched in never-ending line
For a moment the heavy blanket
Of dementia lifts from weary bones,
Frustrations and fatigue dispelled
By the rhythmic pulse of her verse,
Language learnt to the beat of a ruler
In the classroom of lost childhood
Is born again, giving respite and light
To a mind that wrestles with the dark.
I do not cross the threshold of her door
But wait in awed humility
Until the final flourish of her poetry.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
In the morning her voice is crumped,
Her body stooped.
Carers coax her to swallow medication,
Plug hearing aids into reluctant ears,
Start this Groundhog Day again.
I wear my smile as I greet her
At the bottom of the stair lift.
Congratulate her on her night time recitation
Knowing that she will have forgotten
How just a few hours ago
Our hearts with pleasure filled
As we danced with golden daffodils…
Pack It In March 2021 during the third lockdown in the Isle of Man.
by Hazel Teare
My mind has packed up.
In one box
In another, family snaps
Full of love
Romance, carefully bound
By ribbon ties,
Awaits a new home.
Regrets sealed tight
Their taint restrained
From touching truth.
Pain nailed down
In a strongbox,
I open the final box
Fold myself into it And close the lid.
By Duncan Fraser
Of course you knew, deep down, that the way
she talked about that man would one day
be the way she would talk about you.
She had great skill as a raconteur.
Yet, though you were rapt, it did occur
to your dull brain that her aperçu
was more than a comical insight
into the butt of her jokes – it might
be a revelation of her too.
Disloyalty to her ex-husband,
selling the secrets of their heartland
for belly laughs from her retinue –
was there not in your mouth some distaste
for this treachery, for this barefaced
derision for the chap’s billets-doux?
Her mimicry was entertaining
and you laughed rather than refraining
from the merriment that would ensue.
Right now she will be doing your voice
and some other fool will have no choice
but to suppress what he always knew.