nthposition online magazine

A date with my mother & Aquafit


[ poetry - december 12 ]

A date with my mother

I know it is against all of the rules,
but I never had two dates that went so well,
so I ask you out again, this time for dinner.

You’re my mother as a young woman: bell-bottom jeans,
the ringlets I’ve seen in photos of your wedding.
When the wine list comes, you order a pint of bitter,

then run your tongue along a liquorice Rizla.
Coming back from the toilet, I almost catch you
stowing away the waiter’s telephone number.

It’s years before you’ll lose my sister to cancer.
When I talk about my father, you say, ‘Too serious.
We’ve been out twice and he wants to marry me.’

It’s then I want to ask what I’m here to ask:
if I told you now how it would all turn out,
would you still go through with it? But Twist ‘n’ Shout

is blasting out: you grab my hand, kick off your heels,
as you always will do when I am a child
in the kitchen, yelling, ‘Jon, just follow me –

just put your feet wherever I put mine.’



Mondays. 7pm.
The ladies sink into the pool,
chat of their parents’ health, their daughters’ work.
Their bathing suits are holding something back.

Squat thrusts and shuttle runs:
they walk in the water.
The instructress stands above them like a billboard,
mimicking them: ‘And right, and left, and…’

In the men’s changing room,
a boy in council uniform
sweeps the dregs of shampoo to the drain.
From the pool come love songs.