Poem in Which I Lick Motherhood

I have several children, all perfect, with tongues made of soap
and PVA glue running through their veins.

My boys and girls benefit from eating the rainbow.

I iron children twice daily. Creases are the devil’s hoof print.

I am constructed from sticky-back tape, pipe cleaners and clothes pegs.

There are instructions for making me. Look at the appropriate shelves
in reputable stores.

I am fascinated by bunk beds, head lice and cupcakes.

You will only leave the table when I have given you clear instructions.
oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooSo far I have not.

The school-run is my red carpet.

Yes, you’re right, how do I manage it? Though, I didn’t ask you.

Dreaming is permitted from 7:40 to 8:20 am on Saturdays, Bank Holidays
and on mornings when I will be engaged in healthy outdoor pursuits.

My children’s reward charts are full of glittery stars. I am the Milky Way.

Crying is dirty.

One housepoint! Two if you eat up all your carrots.

I always go off half an hour before my alarm. In the morning I speak
a complex language of bleeps and bell tones.

Chew with your mouth closed. No. Don’t chew at all. Admire the presentation.

Underneath my ribs is a complex weather system of sunshine and showers.

Heat rises from me and blows across the gulf stream of my carefully controlled temper.

oooSometimes I am mist.

Maria Taylor

Poem in which the ice is moving

After a death she says
life is a fat weight.

Remember the thrill of sun on that hill,
ooooooooooooooooooorunning up that hill,
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooan unfolding hand

now living’s more an act of will

I would like to understand oooooodying
ooooooas a new adolescence:
ooooooooooooobodies moving like water
ooooooooooooooooooooowe take whatever transformations
oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooremain open to us.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooI would like to say that.

Don’t wait, pretend to be a man who does things
ooooooooooooooooooonot a woman who feels things
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooosaying hello, hello.

A fir tree grows
oooooooin a red rose halo
oooooooooooooooas winter sun goes down:
ooooooooooooooooooooooso much happens without us

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooI’m a cloud of breath
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooovanishing in sight:

oooooooooooooooooooooplay onoooooooobe that song.

Even the ice keeps quickening
oooooooooooooooooooin its hard skin
oooooooooooooooooooooooooeverything is moving:

oooooooooooooooooooat midnight, the whole road glitters
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooas if it’s still going somewhere.

Rebecca Varley–Winter

Poem in Which an Aerialist Makes a Shopping List

the sigh of a balloon puckering up to my lips
oooooooooooobefore it drifted – string snapped,
I want it back. I want
intakes of breath I loaned flaming candles
oooooooooooon birthday cakes.
Feathers, a pleat of air over the washing line,
ooooooooooooothe map of swallows
breaking out of the eaves,
ooooooooooooooooooooodragonflies dipping
into my water glass, wasps, I crawl into the bolt
of their electric torsos stretching
into my stripey tights. Give me air, blows
I donated to an almost dead man on the street,
levelling my weight. I did not crack
a rib. Disposable tissues, rolling
oooooooooooooooooooooin the wind,
oooooocarrying my mother’s tears to the gulley,
washing each clean, the prayer to Saint Rita
she kept in her purse ripped and scattered,
by the church wall like snowflakes
oooooooooooooooooooobuilding our quietude,
magpies, deftly picking up paper pieces, adding
words to their nests. I eat birds, to keep on
reaching for a hand that has dropped me before.

Angela Readman