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Barbara Cumbers #quirkychristmas

The Problem of Worldwide Simultaneous Delivery

The method of distribution baffles her.
The white-bearded man in the department store
who said it was by magic was duly scorned –
magic is no answer, except in stories.
She likes those, knowing that beanstalks
can’t really grow to reach a sky where giants live,
that even with the help of dwarves
miller’s daughters can’t spin straw to gold.
The problem is, there are real presents
in her room on Christmas morning.

She knows why aeroplanes don’t flap their wings,
why ripples in a pool move as they do,
why insects are so small, and why ice floats.
She accepts, for now, the limits to her understanding
but can’t quite cope with the impossible.
And she is satisfied, for now, with quantum physics –
Father Christmas as a worldwide quantum wave
of which each particle leaves presents for a single child,
a wave that would collapse if any boy or girl woke up
and saw a quantum of him. She will be a scientist.

 

First published by Indigo Dreams Publishing

Barbara Cumbers earned her living as an information officer in the NHS and is a former associate lecturer in geology for the Open University. She lives in London, with a husband and two cats. Her first full collection, A Gap in the Rain is due out from Indigo Dreams

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Barbara Cumbers #antibullyingweek

Feathered

The fat child stands in the woman’s reflection
fingering parallel marks on thighs and belly,
pale vanes bedraggled in folds and creases

of overstretched skin.
− Did she eat too much and become graceless?
− Was she graceless so she ate too much?

It doesn’t matter which. The vanes
aren’t those of feathers, weightless strength
that can hold the air – the fat can’t fly.

The fat child plays alone by the lake
where the swans do not call her names.
She sees white water elegance

and its loss in a change of element –
a flat-footed flapping run like a fat child
struggling, then the lift

to sing in the air, heaviness dropping away
like the park and the lake
under outstretched wings.

 

Barbara Cumbers earned her living as an information officer in the NHS and is a former associate lecturer in geology for the Open University. She lives in London, with a husband and two cats. Her first full collection, A Gap in the Rain is due out from Indigo Dreams next month.