This is a poem about a woman
presented with a gift
who said to herself this is special
and put it aside to savour
in a good place, by her bed.
Her bed. Now there’s a story.
Two lives squeezed into one.
The tiny room fills – a queen size bed
replaces the futon.
The bookshelves teeter on top of each other,
the books layers deep.
New books: boat books, fishing books:
a connoisseur’s collection –
first edition Riddle of the Sands.
At night they are awakened
by calls from frantic survivors,
straight after the calls she records
their stories on a sheet beside the bed
where she keeps papers on self-mutilation
and ritual abuse
next to the books she’s been given to review.
He pats her and rolls over.
They find room for another desk
in the space next to the window
and for an old computer.
Outside a boat is taking shape,
a clamped hull sails on wooden blocks.
The teenage son removes his glasses,
pops in contact lenses,
falls off a milk truck
and gashes his thigh.
She sleeps, and dreams hypnotic dreams
of Odessa, of tall ships
and oranges, and the great stairs down to the water
beckon, and somewhere
she knows there are poems
She looks in all the obvious places:
on her desk, by the bed, on the kitchen table.
But life has washed over them
and now they are nowhere.
They’ve been told that poltergeists
thrive wherever there are teenagers,
they come to accept this.
The mystery of the missing pens, the disappearing address book,
the marching keys, the poems.
And then the pull of water is too strong,
and the sea is claiming them
and she swims through the house and in a reef,
rainbow showered. she finds them. The poems.
Each a brilliant bit of coral,
sharp beneath their sheen.
She thought she had lost them, and there they were,
patient where she left them,
squelched in the ocean’s debris.