Corner Block Vigil in Cowboy Hat

I’m five years old, crouched on the knee-high brick fence
next to the letter box. I’ve scraped my legs getting up there.
I’m wearing a cowboy hat and a man’s striped dressing gown
with long red beads, and watching cars choose their direction.
My fists are clenched as if I’m clutching an imaginary railing.
The deep green well-cut lawn all around me is a sea for pirates.
Rose bushes that run along the path to the house are stubborn islands:
they bloom outrageously or are cut back to swords of thorns.
Perhaps I’m waiting to be lifted off, life to hoist its skirts,
the street to rouse or the shaking inside me to rattle open until tins
screwed tight in cupboards of cupboards back in the house burst.
I’m waiting for years to roll out: school term after term pulling
each other along, me trailing in a wonky wheelbarrow, beads jangling.



Cath Drake, an Australian from Perth who lives in London, has been published in anthologies and literary magazines in UK, Australia and US, and performs her work widely. She has been short-listed for the Manchester Poetry Prize, and was second in the 2017 Resurgence Poetry School eco-poetry prize (now called Ginkgo) and highly commended in 2019. Sleeping with Rivers won a Mslexia/Seren poetry pamphlet prize and was a Poetry Book Society choice. The Shaking City, her first full collection, is out in 2020 with Seren Books. Her work has included environmental writing, award-winning journalism and teaching mindfulness.