The Mother Ship

I was the vessel
that ferried them to this world.
They travelled in economy,

limbs contorted,
while I billowed through the months,
growing my curious cargo.

Wedged inside the hold
they didn’t want to leave.
Wouldn’t disembark.

They saw first light
through a porthole carved
in that cramped cabin.

Then were hauled out,
two pink slippery shrimp
complaining loudly.

My bow adrift
I bled a galaxy of tears,
while alien life lay mewling in my harbour.


I was only young,
eleven, twelve,
when the old brown horse
turned up on some bombed-out land near home,
its big soft snout snuffling
over the fence searching for sugar.

I lived in a brown town
punctuated by red buses,
not a place for country creatures.
No sweet greens,
just scratchy weedy, unknown things
to graze. No dapples, just
blocks of shade.

Skipping to school with sticky hands
I stopped each day at that wasted land
where the horse shone
and softly took the treat,
then thanked me with a stroke
of his conker coat.

Until we knew each other.
He always waited and watched
at the right o’clock
and greeted me,
I named him ‘Horse’.
He knew me as ‘sugar lump girl’

One day the land was waste no more.
The builders came and built some flats
where old Horse once stood
and waited,


There’s mum grinning
in the meringue dress
that was kept in a box in the attic,
until it turned as yellow
as this old photo.

Dad stands rigid beside her
in someone else’s Sunday suit.
The bridal party
smile, captured in sepia.

Four full ranks of youthful family
shoulder to shoulder,
staring into the timeless lens.
Yet time took them.

Now all those happy folk
are a confetti of dust,
fertilising the flowers
with their boney minerals.

A blood bouquet,
bound with apron strings,
to be thrown to the next generation
for use in marriage.


I grew up to the sound of needles
click clacking through my childhood
like nanna’s loose teeth.
My mother’s fast fingers
manipulated wool,
turning it from a wayward ball
into scratchy sweaters
far from the cosy swaddle
of soft baby blankets.

She fashioned me a swimsuit
in blush pink
which the North Sea sucked at
while I paddled
and splashed and squealed.
I emerged almost bare
initially unaware that the wool,
heavy with brine,
sagged around my skinny knees.

Tears laddered my face
like dropped stitches.
Sniggering kids
in their 10 bob nylon suits
pointed, while mum tiptoed
across the sticks and stones
of Brighton Beach
to shield me in betowelled arms.

My protests never stopped her knitting
lace garters for my wedding day,
blankets for nuptial nights,
and bonnets for new babies.

Now here I am,
alone, in silence,
sifting through a box
full of sixties models
smiling from the dog-eared
patterns of memories.

Picture the Taj Mahal

My apologies.
When I took the photo
I didn’t notice the dusty
bare rump of the beggar boy
squatting in the left-hand corner.

I was busy looking at the view.
The pearly light reflecting
from the white marble
at sunrise
is quite something.

Of course, there are hordes
of tourists at that time of day.
Tiny people with cameras
all gaping up at the magnificence
through their lenses.

Me, I crossed the river
to get a better picture.
Get the whole thing in.
But, don’t worry,

I’ll cut the kid.
Photoshop him out.

Learn to Fly in Four Easy Steps

After ‘Gravity is the Thing’ by Jaclyn Moriarty

Step 1 – Start small.
Just jump over a small obstacle,
no more than a few inches above the ground.

Maybe you don’t see that as flying
But as long as your feet leave the earth
it’s a start. I wouldn’t recommend flapping
your arms, it draws attention.

It’s mainly the landing you need to master.
Absorb the impact.

Step 2 – Once you have gained confidence
you could try jumping up from a chair.
Now you need more focus, look for the currents.

Watch birds on thermals, see how they
glide, sliding easily through the air, relaxed
and fearless.

You may not think it necessary
to concentrate at this point. After all, jumping
from a chair is child’s play. But beware of uneven ground
it can cause a crash.

Step 3 – Don’t forget to fill your lungs
With good clean air, it will help with lift.

Study the branches of the nearest tree.
See how even the smallest leaves sway
in the merest breeze.
Sway to that same rhythm.

Remember how birthday balloons catch the air and float away.
Imagine how it feels to float and view the earth
from a great height.

Let your arms rise.
Try and touch a cloud.

Step 4 – Now lay on freshly mown grass.
Gaze up at the vastness and fill your senses
With the wonders of the sky.

Close your eyes.
Breathe in freshness
Feel the earth beneath you.
Become aware of the lightness of you.

Let yourself go.