Mr Shopping Trolley
Stuffed with newspapers
lifted from transport seats and bins,
dad was a shopping trolley.
His tailor’s fingers itched
for snip of shears
and swish of a papercut.
Earpiece strapped to TV, snug
in his deafness bubble, until
pointlessly yelling, we waved in his face.
His control suite was stocked with
paper, scissors, biros, paperclips,
bulldog clips and Sellotape dispenser.
He sliced, spliced, stapled
and bunched his evenings away
with random clippings.
Health risks of eating fungi.
The Odd History of Putney Sewers,
Cure for Arthritis Found.
Each point circled, crossed,
in red, black and/or blue. Sellotape,
his glue of choice, was applied
to the base of kitchen units,
fastened batons across doorways,
as a DIY cockroach deterrent.
Instead of cheques to help with bills
paper tokens came by post: Somerset’s
Last Coalmine, The Power of Vitamin K.
My inheritance – a pile
of twelve stuffed bin bags,
ready for refuse collection.
I wanted to know if they’d left his teeth in.
I never saw him without teeth.
They offered me a sherry. I went in.
Low hum of air conditioning,
two carnations on his chest,
his face pillow-smooth.
I couldn’t look at his hands
his elegant fingers and the crooked
one from the accident before I was born.
I touched his arm.
Eighty-five, a good innings, said the nurse,
giving me his hearing aids, glasses,
his fake Rolex, still ticking,
his clothes in a black bin bag.
As she handed me his credit cards
I knew there’d be debts to clear.
Southport Tailor’s Magic Suit
read the clipping; he kept scores of copies.
One jacket to fit all sizes was his claim.
He hinted it was something to do with
the way he cut the shoulders, but fearful
of being ripped off,
its secret dies with him.
Magic Suit was first published in Girl Golem (4word, 2018)
Rachael Clyne’s pamphlet Girl Golem, published by 4Word in 2018 includes poems about her father Nat, who migrated from Russia as a toddler and became a ladies’ tailor. Rachael explains, “Deaf since his teens, Nat was a character.”
Rachael’s collection, Singing at the Bone Tree, which won the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize in 2013 and was published by Indigo Dreams in 2014, concerns our broken relationship with nature.