At Castle Neroche
Along by the birches, into the pine forest
the dog going doolally to be free, rounding up the children,
minding his flock in that leafy sphere.
It was as if we’d packed all our conflicts into a boat
and floated them off somewhere, so we could be here,
close in the quiet woods.
Snowdrops, pine cones and puffballs, sinuous roots,
a phallic stinkhorn. Five of us moving together
among all that simply grows.
I found a red berry like a ruby on the forest floor.
For a while, that small gem held us
in a ring of silence.
Things My Mother Said
When I was a child
she said I’ve got eyes in the back of my head
she said I just don’t understand you
you should be ashamed of yourself
she said Look what you’ve made me do now
When I asked how old she was she said
As old as my gums and a little bit older than my teeth
She said Don’t let anyone see you down there
Men! she said Men!
When I was a teenager she looked me up and down
and said That dress does nothing for you
But sometimes she said Go and enjoy yourself love
and when I came back she said Who did you meet?
Whoever it was she knew their family history
She often asked me What’s the skeet?
but I had none and if I had
I wouldn’t have told it to her.
She always had her sights on the weather
You’re not going out without a coat in this
It’s fit to blow your head off
Sometimes she’d look me in the eye and say
Bless you love. Bless you, meaning thank you,
meaning I love you.
When her hearing went she said
Speak up you’re mumbling
she said It’s no joke getting old
and I’ll never make old bones
In her last year she said
86! Would you believe it?
skeet – a Manx word meaning gossip
Listen to Chrissy Banks reading ‘Things My Mother Said’ on SoundCloud.
Chrissy Banks lives in Exeter. Her poems have been published widely in magazines and anthologies, including Agenda, Orbis, the North, the Rialto, the Lake, Antiphon and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Days of Fire and Flood was her last collection, published by original plus in 2005. She won second prize in the inaugural Wordsworth Trust Single Poem Competition last year and was recently Highly Commended in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize. Her next collection, The Uninvited, is due from Indigo Dreams in 2019. http://www.chrissybankspoetry.com