One day the rain
One day the rain, roaring in
upon a rogue wind, bewildering
the landscape while you stand dismayed
at grass grown tall and seeded,
berries splitting on the vine, thickets
that rain, the taste of it,
its isolating world,
will be your last;
your space, your time
will be defined by nylon screens,
relentless light, the wheeling of machines
back and fore,
an empty chair
and how are you today?
Things to consider:
……the neon mountain range you know
……as the tremor of your tired heart
a tiny paper cup
swallow these, drink this
……a button to press if there’s anything
She speaks again and you recall
something illuminated by the light
of dry days
grass blowing in a hot dusk
the shiver of it in long shadows
that blackbird chortling regardless
of his dried dead young
something illuminated by that low sun
something there in all those gone-days.
Remember one morning you walked
on the dew-soaked grass
before the heat
before anyone else was awake
just you out there, and the blackbird
god we could do with some rain
She sets herself neatly in her cloche hat
and nylons, keeping her shoes on despite
the heat and the soft give of the sand,
gives him space by her feet.
In the background someone is knitting.
He sits by her feet between deckchairs
next to the flask and teacups
in the shade of a towel, digging.
Ted takes the picture, jovial no doubt
as they all squint horribly at the sun,
Babs with her hands shielding the glare,
her knees filthy from the damp sand
while, in the foreground frowning
in his laundered cotton smock, he sits
between craters, Shirley Temple curls
framing his angel face.
Be my good girl, she says, smile.
Years later he writes papers on pathogens,
UTIs and PID, wears a white coat
and washes religiously in dilute phenol,
closing the tap with his elbow.
He shows me streptococcus on a slide
like it was a pet, lifts me onto the stool
to look at the moon and its necklace
of spermy cells shifting.
Now thin as a twig, his limbs casting
away devils, he finds his life drawn away
in a grey tide. He knows me, remembers
Ted, but never speaks of her,
does not recall the perfume
of her powdered cheek, her neat hair
pinned inside a net, the pursed lips,
those tiny slippered feet.
Jane Lovell has been widely published in journals and anthologies. She won the Flambard Prize in 2015 and has been shortlisted for the Basil Bunting Prize, the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize and the Wisehouse International Poetry Prize. Jane is currently working on her first collection, This Tilting Earth, and a pamphlet for the Night River Wood project. Metastatic is to be published in 2018 by Against the Grain Press and Forbidden is to be produced later in the year as a limited edition hand-sewn pamphlet by Coast to Coast to Coast.
Her website is at https://janelovell128.wixsite.com/janelovellpoetry