Editor’s note: This week’s Poetry Corner features Martina Evans, an Irish poet and novelist living in London. Evans’ fourth collection, “Facing the Public,” was named a Book of the Year by The Times Literary Supplement and won the 2011 Piero Ciampi International Poetry Prize. “Petrol,” a verse novel, is set for release by Anvil Press in September 2012.
are mostly silent,
or black and white,
or brown and white,
or red and white
(white with red ears
the ones from the underworld),
all women dread
to be called
Christmas Day and Good Friday
were the only the days that the pub closed.
And yet they came –
trembling strangers, under hats and caps,
lapels turned up against the slanting wind
or hiding a dog collar.
They were desperate.
We knew men like them for 363 days of the year
apologetic, obsequious and persistent,
tap tap tapping at our front door.
Isn’t it a fright? everyone whispered
over the Brussels sprouts the one day in the year
Wouldn’t you think they would stock up or their wives could …?
I pondered but sshhh in the name of god my mother
looked at me as if I was planning my future.
You’ll draw them in on top of us
she passed out slices of turkey on tip-toe
and we avoided the noise of cutlery on china
chewing tensely until we heard the sound
of footsteps on gravel again
the wind-up growl of an old Escort or Cortina starting up
Who thinks it’s nice to think of
them smiling down on us ?
If they are looking down
they could be frowning or
crying or worse. I pull the Black
-watch tartan rug closer,
sip strong hot black coffee
sink into a soft white banana
and peanut butter sandwich.
Donny, a bundled roll
of white and ginger stripes
groans in his sleep beside me.
Last night, a smiling corpse entered
my dream and hugged me.
I didn’t like it all.
Let the dead smile at themselves.