A lucky escape

Dark rain fills up

the night’s heady breath

and all I can see

is the faint impression

of distant tail lights

as I speed homeward

at the day’s bedraggled end

 

when from nowhere

a parked-up vehicle

on the side of the verge,

back wheels

skewed across my path,

looms before me

like a quiet dragon

or an omen of disaster

 

so all I can do

is veer, cursing,

into the fast lane

and wait for the inevitable

crunch and jolt

of the accident I’m bound for.

 

But there’s nothing:

the only sound

is the pounding of my heart

and the bleak patter

of rainfall on my windscreen

 

as the abandoned car

disappears behind me

into its own unknowable history

and I am safe again.

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The Invisibility of Women

When I was young and golden haired

I longed for a cloak

 

which when I wore it

nobody would see me in.

 

Now I’m fifty and rather greyer

that invisibility cloak

 

clings to me curiously

like a second skin.

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Retiring from Retirement

Just when I thought

giving up work

 

might be a mere

snap of a finger away

 

some pesky

government official

 

says that seventy-five

is our new sell-by date.

 

People, we’ve been

lied to

 

and the shimmering dream

of lounging in our gardens

 

sipping champagne

from a crystal glass

 

carried to us on a tray

by a nubile young butler

 

is nothing more than

air and bubbles;

 

instead, our wizened fingers

will be tip-typing away

 

until the skin

slips from our bodies

 

and all that can be heard

in the office

 

is the eerie rattle

of bone on keyboard

 

and the faint scent

of decay.

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Evening run

Tonight my head torch

is a smaller moon

 

as I run in darkness

along the common’s edge

 

and hear the rustling

of mysterious creatures

 

in the bracken beyond the path.

My foot falls lightly

 

on softened earth

whilst my breath

 

laces the air

in a night

 

dancing with stars.

And beyond me

 

only a faint glimmer

of branches.

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The Memory of Pears

Peeling the pears

for my crumble

 

the silky juice

saturates my skin

 

so my fingers smell

of sunshine and childhood

 

and how it takes me back

to my father’s farm

 

and to the first freshest pear

I ever tasted –

 

small teeth biting

into yielding flesh

 

and that startling burst

of scented juice

 

pouring its warm bounty

over my chin:

 

a bright tide of laughter

to keep the memories in.

 

Anne Brooke Books

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My Ghost

Last night I dreamt of my friend who died again.

She was sitting at a table and talking to me

as if nothing at all had happened

between the day I saw her last

and now.

 

The table was dark wood and the background black.

I could see her yellow hair falling

just beneath her chin

as if the disease that ravaged her

had not taken each strand

and cast it into nothing.

 

She was talking in the way she used to,

about politics, foreign films and German art,

her familiar enthusiasm melting the time

and casting even history into doubt.

 

I wanted to listen, to be caught up once more

in the friendship I so much relied on.

Instead, in my dream,

I lean forward, take her hands in mine

and tell her there’s something important

I have to say

 

and when I tell her the truth

of the world beyond this strange dream,

her smile fades

and her presence shimmers,

starting to blend with the darkness

beyond the table.

 

I blink back tears which suddenly arrive

in a way they have not been able to in my waking life.

 

When I open my eyes again

she is truly gone

 

and my hands lie empty and alone.

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Knees and sunshine

The sunshine beckons me to run

but these old knees hurt,

you deceitful orb of yellow,

 

and no matter your blandishments

I am staying put today,

that is, if I don’t want

 

to spend the next week

stumbling over nothing

and cursing the call of spring

 

or maybe it’s my age

and I should have considered

health and exercise (perish the thought!)

 

in my younger days

but you were hidden then, oh sun,

and I didn’t want to run.

 

Anne Brooke Books

 

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My Grandfather’s Clock

was always the tune
my grandmother sang to me

when she blended
the butter, rum

and deep brown sugar
to make a delicacy

fit for an angel’s tongue.
It kept a young girl

mesmerised for the way
the song became

the food and the food
the song so when today

I blend the butter she taught me
in my far colder kitchen

the music is the recipe
that makes the magic dance.

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Glistening

The older I become
the more my mind
pursues the thrill of glitter
so I leave behind

questions of politics,
history, love –
all the passing whims
that idly moved

the life I used to know
when I was young –
and instead I focus my heart
on the glistening tongue

of silver and the ancient
pull of gold
in which great secrets lie
as yet untold.

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Hope

Taking everything into account –
the bleakness,
the office-grey blandness

and the redoing of the same acts
over and over again
for no apparent purpose,

that ever-rolling wheel of life –

the sky still sometimes sings blue
and the tiny snowdrop dances.

Anne Brooke Books

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