The Talk

There are cheese and onion crisps in a flowered bowl,
 sliced tomatoes, strong tea, Mr Kipling’s Fondant Fancies,
ye always loved those, all the news that matters, a family
that doesn’t speak English has moved into Mrs McLeod’s
God rest her soul, we never see ye these days, it’s like ye’ve
won the lottery, is there anything ah can get ye will ye
have a sandwich of wafer thin ham? The wee boy round
the corner, the one that got himself beaten up, got a scholarship
to Oxford, he was in the paper, If I can do it, anyone can.
Words jingle in your head, weigh the conversation down, you’re
always careful not to throw them out in all directions, like
they used to do at weddings, silver coins, children scrambling
at the kerb, no thanks, I have all I need now Ganglions
of consonants like grit in your throat,
bampot, boggin, eejit, scunnered,
arse, aye, naw, ya dancer,
ah’m ragin, ma mammy, ma ain place
Promising to come back soon, you let them fall through
the holes in your pockets, leave a trail on the pavement
while tunnelling your way to the bus stop, where Tony,
who remembers you from school, says hello, huvnae seen ye
fur years-d’ye win the lottery or sumthin? Got a great wee job,
startin soon, he smiles goodbye, walks the walk. Someone asks
does this wan go tae the health centre? Then tries to sell you
a ticket for last week’s draw,
No thanks, sorry, I’m a stranger here myself



Morag Smith has been published in e-zines, magazines and anthologies, including Ink Sweat & Tears and Gutter. She is the winner of the Paisley Book Festival /Janet Coates poetry prize and was shortlisted for the Ginkgo ecopoetry prize in 2021.