New Writing In Various Forms, edited by Michael Blackburn

The Review is now on permanent sabbatical.

Many thanks to those who contributed.

The rest, as the man said, is silence.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Two Poems by Robert Etty

Raymond's Mother's Engagement Ring

Prising the nugget of mud off a tine
of the fork he was double-digging with
to set leeks in the plot that belonged to him now,
he didn’t dream her ring might be in it,

a marriage and more since it slipped her knuckle
while (she said later) she’d been pulling peas
for the dinner she’d fallen behindhand preparing,
when they both had to hurry to catch a bus.

He broke up its cast on the clay it was
made of, scratched off caked soil with his nail and pushed
a stick through where she’d pushed her third finger,
tilting her head, perhaps, as they kissed.

Then he folded a plastic bag around it
and carried it in his pocket home to soak
in warm water and Fairy Liquid
and watch mud float off its setting and shank.

It hung on a hook with some twine and his keys
until summer passed, and with summer its shine,
and he slipped it into a box in a drawer
for somebody with their own story to find.

The Afternoon Raymond's Mother Died

The moment it happened, his black old cat woke
in the kitchen and stepped to the doorway
of where she was lying in white cotton sheets
she’d been too still for days to crease very much.

It started to wail from deep in its throat,
with its jaws half parted and whiskers splayed.
He opened a window and dropped it outside
and telephoned Alice from down the lane to come

over and take things in hand. Then he put on
his jacket and walked to the gate at the top
of the track that led through the fields
where blackberries were that they’d picked together,

and milkers Keith would round up before long,
to the sewage farm near the trees at the end.
He poked along hedges where hips and haws
signalled that this was the end of a season

it seemed they’d rehearsed the end of each year
since she’d moved her bed down to the sitting room,
where the sunshine beamed in on a summer day
and she read Woman’s Weekly and slept.

Alice was finishing off at the house
and the cat scraped its claws down the jamb when he came.
As he let it inside, it howled, sudden and loud,
as if no one had howled yet, and somebody should.

Robert Etty's latest collection is Half A Field's Distance, published by Shoestring Press. Rob lives in Lincolnshire.

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