Some of my poems for you to read…

Her Indoors

She moves that silver ring from one finger

to the next, to see what itmight look like

to love someone to their bones —

to keep dinner in the oven and keep it warm for years,

put garden fences on her Christmas list

and keep that list tucked under takeaway menus —

and when she’s kissed, she’ll ask

what you want in your sandwich —

let’s say it’s you that kissed her

you who goes off first thing

to sell pensions from a briefcase —

while she makes waving from square windows an art.

She’ll keep her past in the drawers,

write letters to the back of the oven,

sew her wishes into the sides of your vests.

She’ll dance in the kitchen

she’ll cry in the bath,

         always get a lottery ticket when she goes out for milk.


When he asks you to dance

to My Heart Will Go On

at the disco

          you think that he’s joking.

When you spend ages

picking shoes with your Mum

         and that girl takes the piss.

When you go to kiss your uncle

goodbye, both go the same way

         getting him smack on the lips.

When you tuck your skirt

into your knickers and Mum

isn’t there   to have your back.

When the couple in the restaurant

have a fantasy

          involving a waitress

          and you are the waitress.

When there’s blood on your school skirt

or ink in your mouth;

         when she asks you for a lighter

         and you pass her a highlighter.

When you pick Destiny’s Child:

Survivor, for your final piece in PE

         and fall from the top of the pyramid.

Nanny Cis

She worked at the Coca Cola

factory for years —

always told us it was her

who put the fizz in those bottles.


Those thick-skinned women who brought out
suds and sponges in buckets, rested them in doorways,

kneeling in their slippers, they’d scrub and scrub.
It was all about keeping the modest porch dirt-free daily

and looking well. The old dears of W10, so much pride.
The ones who told tales of real life in their kitchens,

carried generosity in their bellies and plates of
buffet food two by two.

The Old Man

You listen to deaths announced on the kitchen radio,
you know most of them, tell me that’s what you get
for being old. The tap of your soft soles on the lino,
you’ve had that pair for ages, the only shoes I think
I’ve ever seen you in – scuffed black and bent up.

You tell me how you walked to the schoolhouse all
 those years ago – you and your brothers, barefoot,
not one pair between the lot of you.

You in your jacket and cap, ragged old stick in hand –
we walk the lanes. I mean to ask you a hundred
thousand questions before you go for good, just so
I can say that I did, just so I can say I knew everything.

I run ahead pretending I’m Mary Lennox, kicking
the heads off dandelions and dancing round your legs.
The ditches either side make the lane into a maze,
not a gap in the green.

When I’ve gone too far I leg it back to you. You puff tiny
clouds my way, pup-pupping that worn-out old pipe,
and when you’re not looking I take off my shoes,
just to see what it’s like.

All poems © Laurie Bolger.