Charlotte Peters Rock

(20th century / England)

Californian Poppy


My mother wore Woolworth's perfume
Californian Poppy sweet and heavy
Soir de Paris heady in the afternoons

Her evening spent with my baby brother
in the nursing chair
its low legs concealing the runt puppy
our fingers itched for

Ce soir mon frere ne mange pas
Born after a fall on the beach
after the Irish Ginger Women put her fist
right through our front door glass
he wasn't sure about life

Delivered into my drawer in summer
he had a winter skin For years
when the week-long vest was changed
he wore his clean one on top

When mother hauled him up
for inspection she also found
two jumpers two shirts two pairs of socks

He cried a lot more than the runtish puppy
Wouldn't eat Couldn't sleep
If chips and Heinz Baked Beans
and sweets had not existed
he'd have died

My mother did not lead a Californian Life
Her flowers were the weeds that grew
a tree lupin split by Mrs Riley
and one glorious summer the blue and pink
of cornflowers from the packet I bought
for her birthday Something right

She didn't know about Paris
Her evenings were spent sitting at home
three of us asleep upstairs

My brother in her lap she gazed
at smoky flickers of dying firelight
as the slack in sugar bags collapsed
Wondered if my father would come home

12Aug1996 CPR

Submitted: Saturday, March 03, 2012

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