Starstruck

My sister spent the seventies
in a Wonder Woman costume,
or that mud brown jumpsuit
when she draped herself over
Dad’s Cortina for a photo
tossing hair that cascaded
in glossy waves.

She could have passed,
for a glamorous extra
in Starsky and Hutch
but she held no truck with romance
would snort at adverts for diamonds
‘What bloody use are they?’

When she married,
her wedding present
from her husband Clay
was a binary star,
a promise that he would
eternally orbit her brilliance.

She divorced him.
In another galaxy far away,
a celestial version of him
still circles while she has settled
for her slippers and pj’s
and corny TV detectives.

Charlotte Ansell


Late Autumn Afternoon

‘Isn’t it dark outside?' you say, looking out the window
from the settee that has itself known better days.
Now it feels selfish to have opened the curtains;
letting in the light that seems dark to you.
I bathe your feet; you have no objection;
this surprises me, as much as it soothes me.

We eat marshmallows; they are so easy to eat;
almost eat themselves you say.
You observe your feet closely, comment
they are both yours, then ask what to do
with the one that is out of the water.
I ask you to lift it up, saying we are not
out of the water yet. You laugh. I like that.

Then you say it again, the thing about the dark.
After six times I have a sherry.
You remind me of how your father said
‘Let’s shut out the dark’ when you were a child.
I look into your face and wonder if like me
you have dreams where you wake up and breathe
more easily knowing that whatever it was
is not today’s problem.
After a second sherry I tell you that soon
at this time it will be darker-
I wonder too about myself sometimes,
or how I can say anything about loving
or dying.

Mary Carr

Summer

A softened finger would probe what was left of this freedom. Those runs
we carried out through cornfields, that we often burnt without a sliver
of remorse. The drinks we somehow managed to purchase without
I.D, and which we regurgitated without disgust.

The heat of August amongst the screaming children and barking dogs,
that relentless still air that never promises stable weather. No longer
does this time seem endless, as with the decades previous; it just seems
elongated, without the chance of an end.

Those times we would weave in and out of each other’s heads and
pockets. Bathing upon sun heated concrete, the broken bottles framing
our feet. Each back street and field were marked by our presence;
territories now owned by our touch.

Cool winds offer comfort now, my stomach and back escaping my torso
like weakened armour. No longer are they in any fit state for these kinds
of actions any more. We crawl slowly forward and it's within these times
I once held precious, I feel like a stranger.

Jonathan Butcher


Lucy Laughs At Marek

At the foot of
Shirebrook Road
two ten year old girls sit
on the steps of the house
that once used to be the old
Mini Motorparts Shop

they watch a boy
dancing bad parcour
around the yellow
municipal grit bin

girl two is giggling
at the boys looping
tumbles

girl one says
ok Marek
you made Lucy laugh
you made Lucy laugh
but you'll never make me laugh
Marek
you'll never make me laugh

Lucy in her
leopard skin dress
continues her giggle

and Marek continues
his dance

Chris Baldwin