The Dancers on Graves
gather at dawn, 21st June, by the large yew;
limber up, leaning on the back ends of monuments
and tombs; adjust bandeaux and legwarmers;
yodel a little, do scales to loosen the chi.
The relevant areas are corralled with ribbon,
beginning with John Henry Frayn, father of three, down to
Dawn Mary Highgate, a friend to all.
The usual routines, salsa, merengue, rain-dance,
always come out altered on grass, especially
if the going is soft. Some were children when they
started; they say the day fits seamless
into their year. And a lady of 90 (who never forgot
the man who wronged her at seventeen)
resplendent in furs, performs a perfect foxtrot.
The Mercy Brigade sitting to one side, allocate
marks for flirtatiousness, precision, grace.
(First published in The Rialto No. 80, Spring/Summer 2014, and soon to be featured in The Emma Press Anthology of Dance).
Pretty winked and drew in her murmuring skirts of lemon and lime broderie anglaise. Oh how we grieve, the skirts murmured, until gradually her bottom squashed the breath out of them, tangling their threads and stopping their mouths. Oh how we hurt. Her tangerine top span in the sunlight and her hat chattered freely to passers-by. Her tanned legs whistled. Her silk bloomers bloomed. An Arabian gentleman raced to bring her a gift of dove-grey slippers, the Statue of Liberty stitched into their suede soles, silver tacks hammered in rows. A fine old bear with mahogany fur sat on a cushion of moss, cuffed himself, and boxed his shadow; tied the box with nylon ribbon and left her a note which said Pretty is as Pretty does.
(First published in Tears in the Fence, No.55, Summer 2012).
Breaking her fast
after Rosemary Tonks
My spirit broke her fast on you,
rubbed morsels to numb lips
that day we met; sipped at glances
shared at sundown, that first day.
When we stumbled into private smiles,
she nibbled them like haws
till juice dribbled on my chin.
When you called me by a pet-name
of my own, she savoured its aroma,
tongued its vowels; made it me.
Your accidental touch made her crest mountains
to cool her craving; shun tundra
where you were not.
And when our shapes pressed one against the other—
bonding in a public place—
not even the milk moon, streaming,
could slake the cracking Africa of her desire.
You only kissed me once —and that
in fond farewell—but my spirit
grapples manfully with the memory, still;
takes it bloody to a corner, pulps
its gristle in her teeth; finds the quick.
(First published in Iota, No. 92, June 2013)
Geraldine Clarkson has had poems published in various UK and international magazines and anthologies, including The Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt, 2014), Furies (For Books’ Sake, 2014), and (forthcoming) The Emma Press Anthology of Dance (Emma Press, 2015), and The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear, 2015)