From the autistic Alice
She will harrow this town, she will turn him up,
whole or in pieces. Being a sister,
she knows that brothers are born to trouble.
Her part is to rescue him,
lend him a heart to face his enemies,
or failing that, confound them herself
with withheld smiles, or with her sharp
big sister’s tongue; and if she finds
them gone to ground, their damage done,
she’ll cut the losses for both of them
and seek him out, wherever he’s lying,
broken and say, Brother, there’s
no shame in one lost battle, or
in ten. Put the phial down –
don’t drink! And if it is too late
for that, she’ll scruff the man and stick
her fingers down his throat, or find
an antidote, or make her own,
or heave time back, or failing that,
and even failing that, she’ll take him home,
and never mind how small the pieces.
If you could feel, as Alice does, how fast the earth is moving
if your bones shuddered at the grinding, forward thrust of it
if you sometimes had to run keep running just to stay in place
if you feared the ground might throw you like a horse its rider
if you knew a foot placed here or there meant life or death
then you wouldn't need to ask her why she walks that way.
Under my ribs, a tank full of water;
the jerk of a limb makes waves in the water.
I watched the waves from the ferry’s deck,
a terrible strength in the heave of the water.
As you come into land at JFK,
the world dissolves into light and water.
The end of grief is a loosening grip,
permitting the loved one to slip under water.
Taut as an angler intent on his line,
I wait to haul my child from the water.
When I feel like a drag queen
in tights and heels,
I put that down
to my Inner Bloke.
He’s the one
who always has to win,
who comes into his own
in seminars and pub debates.
He knows a lot of facts
and loves to swap them.
There’s nothing he won’t
turn into a joke,
He’s a bully like that
and needs to put me down.
He’s a thwarted thug
and it’s all thanks to me,
the body he lives through,
the puny little arms,
that girly way I kick.
FROM bookside down
Butterfly and Crocodile
At swimming once,
I went to turn from front to back
and just kept turning,
just kept turning,
over and over,
till the swimming teacher said,
‘What are you doing?’
and I said, ‘I’m a crocodile.
This is the death roll
that crocodiles do
to tear their prey apart.’
‘OK’, she said,
‘You need to work on your butterfly now —
though I must say
is really coming on.’
The Potatoes My Dad Cooks
Let me now praise the potatoes my Dad cooks
for truly they are epic;
for they come from the oven smelling so sweet,
their smell delights my nostrils
and when they sit steaming in their dish,
their crispy coatings delight my eyes
and when I take one up and bite it,
the coating breaks with a crunch
and when I chew that mouthful,
the mouthful delights my tongue
and then it delights my throat,
and then, oh then it warms my insides,
for truly the potatoes of my Dad are epic.
The potatoes of his enemies will fail.