just outside st.john’s, 2003
Him dead three tears, and I’m wearing his shirt.
Them days is over. Summig on the uh, radio,
No, wireless. The old songs. His shirt hung up
By the photo of uh, thing, one of the corvettes,
I never knew which one it was, my son knows,
Except I tore him out of all the photos,
And I’m after cramming all the scraps into an old purse
But I don’t know why. Throw it out,
And my granddaughter rescues it from the garbage box,
She think I don’t know, thinks I’m too far gone,
Summat to do with plaques, they says.
Plaques is what you put on the wall.
Next to the jigsaw puzzles I was always doing,
Big one here, thousand pieces, the Royal Family,
Because I’m an English girl. Called our daughter Vera Lynn.
Shirt covered up the tattoos, long pants his legs,
never saw the man naked in light,
Miscarried the first one.
Before we were married. I didn’t know when I’d see him again.
Go for a walk, granddaughter’s watching me from the window,
But I’ll fool her. I’ll not wander.
I’ll button his shirt over me, sit on the rock
And study the pond, wish it was ocean,
Never mind bluebirds and Dover,
Just someone for the love of God
Bring me back to North Shields. I don’t know
why they’re calling me
“Missus” and “Nan.”
I’m only fifteen. And I’m an English girl.
Bluebirds over nothing, just them dirty old gulls at night,
great flock of them, silent and lit from beneath by streetlights,
Weird and white against the sky.
Published online March 11 2007.