January 29, 2014

Marilyn Hammick

The memory keeper

Great Uncle Bill collected combs,
mostly brown, usually small,
kept them in a drawer
lined with The Evening Argus,
the only paper my Grandma bought.

He earned his keep before mid-day,
whitening the doorstep, polishing the elephants
that guarded the mantelpiece clock;
after dinner he wet shaved, dressed in his best,
to watch them playing Bowls in Wild Park.

Once he left to see the Lights, was returned
by the police, back to the family’s care,
that passed from mother to sister
to the niece who arranged his funeral,
to me to be his memory keeper. 

To know

If you leave ice cream out of the freezer
for too long, perhaps you’re distracted
--the baby reaches for a cuddle,
your mother needs to lean on you to leave the table,
or you count the petals that fell in the midday rain,
there are too many--if you do this,
you’ll know what it’s like to be unsolid,
to adjust to shapelessness,
you’ll understand the subtlety of a segment
of moonglow seen between a gap in the blinds:
unexpected and soon, too soon,
resuming its journey behind uncalled for clouds.

One for Sorrow

A bee knocks at the window,
the black cat stretches along the fence line, 
those collar doves are there again,
parallel perched on the pole,

and I recall that we walked with the river
as our guide, while ahead,
the second Tay railway bridge,
not the one built by Mr Bodger, 
admired itself, its longevity.

You tell me that a Hong Kong university
offers a degree in slope technology,
Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes, and
your granddad once walked all day
to catch a glimpse of a magpie,

and, of course, that led to climbing
without railings, to where
spaces lie side by side,
and to the occupation of emptiness.


Marilyn Hammick says her poems emerge from geographical and emotional journeys across bumpy and blessed borders. She writes (and reads) poetry traveling and during still moments at home in England and France, recalling a childhood in New Zealand and years living in Iran.

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