I forget my murderous husband
when an old friend visits. An old friend
I haven’t seen for years. She’s famous,
or her novels. I sing now, she says.
We listen in our largest room.
It’s too small an auditorium.
We’re audience, and the alliums,
blue balloons of pins, and a poster
of Angela Davis. It’s hung here
since the day this old friend got married.
She sings six bars, her voice natural
as on her wedding day when she said
she hadn’t washed, to be the more clean
for the commitment. What could be more
natural than that, listening to her,
I would forget my husband’s anger?
He says he’s never tried to kill me.
But he has. I was noisy with love.
The window was open to the street.
He pushed a pillow over my mouth.
ON NOT LIVING UP TO EARLY PROMISE
My coat is stuck with droplets of king
and impregnated with those bleach stains
of saint that you get before you're born.
It's cloth I've rent life long. Now it's net.
Pull it open like curtains, you'll see
a film of condensation. My skin
mimicks the mist closing Heaven's Gate.
ELEGY ON A RIVER WE ONCE LIVED BY
on you, not a river, about you,
of you drowning
elsewhere under gluts of gulls now flown.
How little your
has taken my body somewhere
it could see you.
Here, this barge city, small gangplanks to
unlocked doors, once,
tubs of daisies on low rooves. Boys,
boys like these, their new flats, will change when
I leave. You left
rather than brave it and wait to think
things: you're not, really. NO MOOR-
ING, NO MOORING.
Copyright Claire Crowther 2014
Claire Crowther has published two collections with Shearsman and three pamphlets with Flarestack and Nine Arches. Her first book was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh Best First Collection prize. Her reviews and poems have appeared recently in such journals and anthologies as New Statesman, Poetry Review, Poetry London, Best British Poetry 2013 (Salt).