My Son the Cockroach
has always had an eye for the ladies. I told him,
‘They’re not screaming at you, at least not in the way
you seem to imagine.’ He’s the colouring of Achilles
and his daftness too. They say those copper curls
stood out in battle, that and his swingeing blade.
My boy’s no swordsman but protection is important
and we’ve a knack for it. You could drop a ton weight
or a nuclear bomb and we’d probably survive.
I’m not showing off, it’s just a fact. But he will push it;
scuttling around the restaurant, creating a scene.
‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, fine after dark, not
by day. The Patron’s a fair man but even he has limits.’
‘Yeah, yeah,’ he says, all mandibles. The German girls
arrive Tuesday, long blonde hair and micro shorts.
I see him looking as they pass. ‘Watch this Mum!’
he shouts, darting out and all three scream.
Too busy grinning to spot the waitress, who,
without so much as a downward glance, grinds him
swiftly underfoot. Legs and antennae go whizzing
in all directions. ‘That’ll take the shine off you,’ I think.
On trips to France Dad tried to show us Culture.
But we were busy playing cards or vying
for room in the endless shifting, sibling shuffle.
On the campsite, like overexcited Labradors
scenting water, we scattered in all directions,
returned hours later, reeking of chlorine.
Trapped in the heat of the camper van, Dad
fashioned gadgets for the shower, yearned
for cities, Mozart, the Test Match on Radio 4.
Inside his head was order. He could ignore
the dropped toilet rolls, the damp towels,
our feral limbs draped on the upholstery.
Ever hopeful, he toured the great chateaux,
awaited a spark of intellectual curiosity.
He remarked on the architecture, the play
of light on water. We talked of chips,
of Beat your Neighbour and Crazy 8s.
The perfect pool, with just us in it.
(both previously unpublished)
Chloe Balcomb is a Yorkshire based poet. Recent publications in journals and anthologies include Butcher’s Dog, Me as a Child (Silver Birch Press 2015) and Not A Drop (Beautiful Dragons 2017). In 2016 she was a winner in the Guernsey Literary Festival and a runner up in the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet competition. She has recently completed a first collection, Advice for Female Funambulists.