is just another girl, dreaming in her deep pink
world of sugar mice and sugar plums. Young enough
to fall for the charms of clockwork and blue-eyed dolls
with ballerina sherbet swirls of layered net;
light enough to sit on uncles’ laps, pull their ears,
pluck Christmas sweetmeats from porcine fingers, stained
with half-smoked cigars, the reek of port, old money.
But there’s a boy, there’s always a boy, a cousin,
maybe a neighbour’s son, hair sleek as a seal’s back,
clear-eyed, straight and tall as a young spruce.
Her candied dreams are disrupted with requests
to dance, closer, closer, Clara tosses and turns
her way to midnight, fingers scrabble in dark air,
one pointed foot still teetering in girlhood.
Sue Burge is a freelance creative writing and film studies tutor based in Norfolk. Her four poetry collections are: In the Kingdom of Shadows (Live Canon 2018), Lumière and The Saltwater Diaries (Hedgehog Poetry Press 2018 & 2020) and Confetti Dancers (Live Canon 2021). www.sueburge.uk
One Christmas I reminisced
about the strung popcorn, paper-
chains and cranberries
we’d draped about the tree
when we were skint.
You looked confused,
had no recollection whatsoever –
which is not unlike you,
discarding details as we go along…
Then horrified, I realized
it wasn’t you at all.
I said nothing, knowing you’d just think
that you forgot…
Then I remembered more –
He took down that tree
with its wilted branches
the popcorn soft,
the cranberries shriveled
into tiny balls…
And when he tried tipping it
out our top floor window in Ealing,
he nearly fell
into the street below.
Gasping, wild-eyed, staring
back at me on the safe side
of the window frame,
I caught both his giant outstretched hands in mine
and we laughed
as he lumbered back inside.
Marie-Louise Eyres’ first pamphlet, When We Lived in Los Angeles was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2021 (available on Amazon). She was a winner in the July ’21 Poetry News “Lesser Loss” competition, her poem, Orphan, appears on the Poetry Society website, complete with audio.
I fashioned a blade from ice;
carved its purity with steel.
Ran with it to the circus tent.
Raised it above my head
so it flashed under the lights.
The slow drip down my wrists
reminded me the treasure of it
But I made this and the moment was mine.
Too early for the ringmaster and clown
to be breathing grassed air in full costume.
faces not yet settled,
Are you auditioning? asked the ringmaster
breaking the enclosed silence.
I felt sure I could pull something off,
but wondered how I would cope in the cold caravans.
Was it time to see so much more of the world
or had I carved this beautiful dagger
for a different purpose?
I frowned thoughtfulness.
Then, feet together,
I lifted my warming weapon above my head.
I opened my mouth as wide as I could,
tasted yesterday’s popcorn tinged with hotdog,
slid it slowly in.
I am 98% sure they applauded.
Sue Finch lives with her wife in North Wales. She tweets at @soopoftheday. Her debut collection, Magnifying Glass, was published in October 2020 with Black Eyes Publishing UK.