Blackpool, 1945 & Inheritance
[ poetry - february 09 ]
We sat in the peeling shelter
On the front, eating chips from a cone.
A Wurlitzer bleated somewhere.
You picked winkles from their shells with a pin
And dipped them in vinegar
Where they coiled like slugs.
Children furrowed sand with sticks.
Donkeys plodded back and forth
Like the tired tide.
You looked across the horizon
A squirm inside -
My own vinegared winkle,
Armless, legless, with timpanic heart.
Still smaller than a thimble.
'Your delicacies,' you said.
You smacked your lips,
Fit them around a stub of rolled tobacco.
Smoke rose in pleats.
You were just a boy soldier.
I'd imagine you from a distance
Growing old, slowly, like verdigris.
You would do best to remember me
Than the woman who spun sugar
On the promenade
In a place where electricity hummed through a thousand bulbs.
A woman, much like me,
With a silk, swansdown purse in the pocket of her breeches
Peddles bread through a black, blackened London
Where light is contained like water.
After, when it gushes, unabashed, from windows
Like square suns,
She still carries that purse.
Later, it sits between mint toffees in a lavender-lined drawer
For years until
Her eyes sink like coy pearls.
Before, a slender, thin lipped lady,
Less like me,
And a high collar, like frills on lamb,
Hands it on like a whisper.
She is glad to rid herself of this.
The down yellows in her keeping.
You, long before,
Keep it hidden under petticoats, in muffs
And smile for Reynolds
As though you sit for Da Vinci,
Knowing you shall never pass it on,
Knowing that you
Shall leave a purse-shaped hole in history.