An early morning train to London and Canary Wharf
from Crewe, the first warm day of the year. Regular
as local stations, lines of laundry start to appear.
Backyards and suburban gardens, balconies of flats:
strings of washing hang half the length of England.
Freed-up linens, tugged by spring’s fingers, on parade.
Even the pegs are little miracles, brought forth
from ingenious bags, to clutch underwear,
spread sheets and dangle white lace handkerchiefs.
Small acts of love, pinned up with such hope of drying,
kissing an April Saturday from North to South,
a fanfare of frills, bunting-dressed to welcome spring.
Calling me on the Phone
was an ordeal then:
you, pathologically shy,
no phone anyway,
a long walk to the nearest call box.
Me, shy too,
hating answering the thing
that squatted blackly
in the garishly-papered hall.
Yet we had our first big row
on the telephone,
you, full of beer and justified wrongs,
angry that I had failed to show.
Me, staying in, tearful,
waiting for a summons
that never came. Rebellious,
I slammed down the phone.
Oh, we patched it up
after a fashion, but both know
these things happen,
if not one way then another.
Can’t blame the telephone,
can’t blame each other.
Angela Topping’s first collection, Dandelions for Mother’s Day, was published in 1988 by Stride. It opened doors for her which led her into teaching English and Drama in secondary school. She emerged 16 years later with two further collections(Stride and bluechrome) and a desire to return to freelance writing. Since then, Salt Books published a solo children’s collection, The New Generation, and a short collection, I Sing of Bricks. She has had a pamphlet with Rack Press (2011), a collection with Lapwing, Paper Patterns, which included work from her collaboration with artist Maria Walker. The collaborated exhibition was shown at StAnza in 2013 and has toured the North West of England. A selection of poems on Motherhood and Childhood was published by Mother’s Milk Books, as was a pamphlet collaboration with fellow poet Sarah James, Hearth (2015). A new collection is forthcoming from Red Squirrel Press.
Topping’s poems have appeared in Poetry Review, The Dark Horse, The North and many other journals. They have been set for A level and featured on Poetry Please (Radio 4). In 2013, she was one of the writers in residence at Gladstone’s Library.