I keep accidentally walking up the wrong stairs
and finding myself in a Palestinian story
about a child, and a mother
and, oh, there is a father, but he is never there
and so I keep forgetting
Up the right stairs it is even stranger:
my life as it was when I had a life –
before I had this life, I mean, when it was
all drinking and parties and passionate fighting
I watch for a while with nostalgia, but
just because it makes a good story, doesn’t mean
you want to live it
Behind the next door, in a post-modern
meta-post-meta comedy, I am the Ice Cream Girl
and each morning I reattach my platinum-blonde beehive
with a twist at the crown
I apply thick black eyelashes
wear my highest heels
and totter my way through the day
By the end, I’ve melted
but the Ice Cream Man scoops me up
safe in a reflective curve
And this is myself, playing myself playing myself
and this, I think, is a farmyard
There are dirt paths and chickens running everywhere
Someone is being born, and someone is dying
inevitably, there’s blood everywhere
and I decide I will never eat pork again, or drink
red wine, but oh, no, I take it back about the wine
Credit note: This poem is reproduced by permission of the author, Helen Rickerby. It is from her latest collection, Cinema, which I have briefly reviewed for the NZ Herald and on this blog.
Audio version: You can also listen to Helen read this poem.
Tim says: Helen is one of my favourite poets, and (as I say in my review) I think this is her best collection yet. “Anna’s life” manages to be (I hope I can say) Anna-ish and Winterbottomish (Winterbottomly?) while retaining its essential Rickerbyism (OK, I’ll give up on the neologisms now) – and what a splendid last line!
The Tuesday Poem: Is by Riemke Ensing and has been chosen by Kathleen Jones, who always writes substantial and fascinating notes about the poems she chooses: both poem and notes are well worth reading.