ORCHARD POSTCARDS

(in memory of Mike)

 

 

Consider life as a forest.

 

Pickled.

 

 

On the morning of your funeral a rambling                            Fresh sap on the black cloth – leave – a –       rose makes a grab for my coat. Green                                         series – of – pulls – 

shoots. 

 

There is hair in my parents shower tray.                                    Too much to call comb outs. 

 

                                                                                                               I wonder how many more times in my life I                                                                                                                  will go to the toilet. 

                                                                                                               Shit.

                                                                                                               Wipe.

 

                                                                                                               Flush.

 

                                                                                                               Wash.

                                                                                                               Not wash. 


 

I remember a girl called Wakefield.                                              Seems like a Frankie Howerd joke. Titter ye                                                                                                                  not. 

 

 

Her first name forgotten in a sea of Claires,                             A warning to Mothers to select more select Kates and Lisas. The last of her seen in a                                   names.

summer dress in the Tudor House. 

Peacock.

Bees Knees. 

 

That bus drive.                                                                                 A fugue of feet on seats. A drum roll. A

                                                                                                              flailing of arms and falling bodies hot

Backseat teenagers. The overbearing smells                             against each other. Hot as the brakes.

of new perfumes and aftershaves just                                        Sweaty as the bus engine.

discovered in bucket loads. 

There is Fisher on Carol.                                                               Twitter ye not.

Mike on Anna. 

All on Haigh Hall.                                                                           Naughty naughty.

Hey hey Frankie. 

Ebenezer Goode sung by Howerd. Naughty

naughty. Faces looking out of pub windows.

Tomkins tiny Fiat lifts in the air. Screams

across junction. Leaving Tanners.                                                Leaving Wakefield. Leaving the sea of  

Leaving Frankie. Leaving Goode.                                                 names.

 

There is a scrambled egg sandwich before.                                Told not to unplug phone or I will get dust

A bib to save the black suit.                                                            on my knees. I will mine the dust dry and

                                                                                                                take it with me to the funeral.

                                                                                                               The Prying neighbour watching me writing.

The tiles are missing from the porch across                               Leaning on the gate post.

from my childhood home. The porch

without planning. 

 

Three missing teeth. A crooked grin lean-to

beside a dead cypress. 

 

A brown border. Birds nests fossilised in

branches. Cats stone like, dead in the                                          If I had been allowed a catapult. Nothing

undergrowth. Always waiting. Never                                          big. A trebuchet will suffice.

pouncing. There is birdsong. The optimistic

few before spring. Fat wood pigeons ready

for the pot if I was eight.                                                                 Waiting for a certain Wakefield to pass by.                                                                                                                       Oh me. Oh my. A desk by any other name.                                                                                                                   A forgotten girlfriend that never was. 

 

The pigeons are startled by the rev of a Ford                             They sued my ex-brother in law for being an Focus. More choke than church chime. The                             awful driver. For robbing them of a gate bells ring. Kids play in a distant school yard                               post. Now a nub. Concrete and shale water by a distant graveyard. The reason my Mum                             in its hollow.

never sent me there. Not fair to put kids in a

place where they can play with the dead.

  

Singing in the car headlights that flash. I

mistake the driver for my driver. But he is

he. She is she. He is forty years too late. She

is ten minutes late. I nearly get run over.

Black suit flapping.

 

Miserable and dead in West Yorkshire. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                   The trees are living on the yellow                                                                                                                                      escarpment. Marching moor way.

 

 

 

Andrew Oldham is a Jerwood-Arvon nominee. His poetry has been on BBC Radio Four’s Poetry Please and on Channel 4 Film Shorts. His poems have appeared in AmbitMorning Star, The London MagazineInterpreter’s House and North American Review. He has been included in the seminal anthologies Versions of the North: Contemporary Yorkshire Poetry and Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfamwww.andrewoldham.co.uk

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