The people surrounding us imortalised in poetry expressing all aspects of life and death, humour and hate, disgust, guilt, love but most of all inevitability.
TREE OF READY MEALS
This Lilly is a long-boned woman
with legs like skewers and
empty breasts lying on the furrows of ribs.
Her smile comes from an old heart
strong beyond reason. She smiles
at laughing visitors who kiss, kiss, kiss
planting babies in her lap.
Food appears like magic
chicken is fish, porridge is soup
and everything is beautiful.
That Lilly was hidden in layers of old muscle
and blue-flowered polyester.
Fourteen children darted in and out
with wives. Husbands and grandchildren
flapped hands at mince with onion
mince without. Boiled potatoes – no potatoes
steak pie, Spam. Fat chips: thin chips
tea, no jam. Liver for William,
rabbit for John, licked-clean dishes stacked
the sink …smells ran up walls
dripped off stairs and settled
when she sank into her broad armchair.
Lily, while you were sleeping
the imprint of last kisses faded
with the night air. We smoothed
your temples to calm our weary hearts
our voices stuffed the room with memories.
We giggled at whispered tales, the children
were confused – we laughed till they cried.
Wee James skipped down the road
to see a woman who didn’t know him slip
out of his life. We counted breaths with you
and breathed in the last.