‘A Circular Life’ by David Lukens

A Circular Life

“Don’t forget, I was brought up an heiress,”
she said, massaging the dog’s arse with the palm
of the hand that would soon be cutting cake.

“He’s constipated, poor lamb.” She gave
another loosening stroke. The dog wheezed
through flattened snout and winked at me.

“More cake?” “Not me, I’m full,” I lied
and watched her lick a thumb and chase the crumbs
across the grey stained linen tablecloth.

I could never forget that. Of course not.
Only heiresses can accomplish all that
my grandmother did with such gentle grace:

shrug amiably as her stocks plummeted,
along with her broker in a silent leap
from the window of his Manhattan office.

Move flats each time the rent increased.
Sew garments she could no longer afford
for the rich whose standards matched her own.

Drive ambulances through the London blitz.
Pull body parts from piles of bricks;
learn to sleep for one hour at a time.

Calm the young policeman who found
her husband’s body wrapped around his gun;
tell him it was always so difficult to clean.

(first published in For want of a better word, poems from the Poetry Space competition 2014)

David Lukens lives in Wiltshire and has worked in teaching, business and information management. He has written novels for young adults and has had poetry published in a number of magazines.