As You Are 90, I Must Be 65
There’s something wrong with the guttering: it could be nests. When it rains
cataracts drown the geraniums. This is one problem. Another is the rockery,
overrun by Creeping Jenny and saplings which would become a forest
left to their own devices. Someone stole the lilies-of-the-valley, and the heathers,
which promised so well, have disappeared. The world grows both wilder
and more straitened, like the bin collections, never the right thing at the right time.
Why don’t they know about leaves? I don’t say the cat’s coat reminds me
of dying cats I’ve known. There are two sorts of roses, those cut from the garden,
blowing slowly, petal by petal, onto the polished wood, and the bought bouquets
which just nod over. We would like to be the first kind. Who can tell what will
upset the system? Today eggs, tomorrow not eggs. It’s impossible. The body’s
a capricious toddler, prone to sudden rebellions. I tell you, it’s hard work.
No-one knows what to buy you, it’s all hand cream and orchids, a flower
not naturally companionable. We’ve been talking about memory, what remains
and why, like that day the house filled with crane flies dangling wispy legs,
a green two-piece and boater, how the elastic bit under my chin. I offer you
the gift of how a friend, seeing an old snap, remembered the colour of her frock,
but not the parade of elephants behind her on the stony Deal beach. We were talking
about how hard it is to rise from your knees without upper or lower body strength.
And now the fridge has taken to defrosting itself, shallow pools on the glass shelves.
It’s no-one’s fault. No-one knows the cat’s age, why she turned up. She likes to sleep
where you want to put your feet. Once you set fire to a love rival’s rubber plant.
I took a lot of recreational drugs. Now it would appear we’re old ladies.
Music and Movement
We’re in our knickers, hungry as always.
Some of us are vestless but it’s no disgrace;
it’s months before we’ll learn to be mortified
by nipples. After marching, we’re divided:
tree-girls, static, arms aloft, and wind-boys
who career – hurricanes, tornados – oblivious
to the radio. Branches spread high and wide,
we trees persist in our valiant waving despite
the idiot winds’ rude buffetings which knock us
sideways. I am silver birch, arboreally furious,
white-trunked in spotless cotton interlock.
My fringe is an owl, my beetle brows a hawk,
all murderous attention as twig fingers stir
and test the unsuspecting mouse-flavoured air.
My legs, my legs are mighty. No callow gusts
will better me. Each copse, each wood, each forest
will roar when I am wind, every single tree.
When I get to be wind, I’ll do it properly.
(published in the Ver Poetry Competition Anthology 2017 – Commended)
Kathy Pimlott‘s pamphlet, Elastic Glue, is due for publication in spring 2019, by the Emma Press, who also published her first pamphlet Goose Fair Night. Kathy’s poems have appeared widely in magazines, anthologies and on-line. She lives in the Seven Dials corner of Covent Garden. Twitter @kathy_pimlott