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One of those people who ate sweets alone - Gareth Culshaw

There was a woman by us who slept inside a clay flower pot.

Every morning a blackbird woke her up and she stretched with plasticine arms.

Her curtains were opened to let in the past. A light turned on to move away

the night. Her feet shimmied across the carpet as if on a sheet of ice.

Her hair shaped like a dandelion she wore make-up to keep snow off her eyebrows.

Box hedging sagged with the weight of her husband’s death.

A brown cat lived with her and piled up rodents by the recycling tub each night.

Her family never stayed long enough for her to remember their names.

Once, when they left, she stood by the door jam with a socket set and nail files.

Climbed the telephone mast and connected her phone line to the neighbour’s house.

For years her family thought she was out. Each spring she painted the garden gate

with charcoal rubbed the creases out of the wooden panels.

I think her name was Mo, but some called her Joan. She sucked dried fruit

in the corner of her mouth. Had a focus in her eyes like a guy painting a pylon.

I never saw neighbours talk to her or give her a knock at Christmas.

If you looked at the kitchen window the shelf was full of tinned fruit.

I saw her once use her cat’s teeth as a tin opener. The tail spun round too.

In younger years she was a teacher. Drove a Ford back and too until retirement.

Parked it outside the local chippy. The only time she smoked was in the car.

When she found her husband, he was slouched on the sofa with the words ‘Heart Attack’ written on a post-it note and the cat sat on the dining room table with a pen.


My second collection, 'A Bard's View' available now at:

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