In the tree that grew, between us,
A mother made her nest:
In your armchair you watched
And made those days about birds.
You hung the good grapes over my border:
At first, you wanted the tree away.
The length of the street you wanted to see,
To be able to open a window
To shout you’re a-wanting for your dinner;
called after cities –
Those birds were all killed;
It upset a knotty eye – dry as coal.
Crumbling bark: a cat.
A nod to the nest saw it was empty
And still you sat; it was time.
Men with the right tools for the job
Worked round the corner, dusting trees
Off their spots, and so,
I nabbed them for the job: toothless,
The land changed –
There was space to do anything
And an opening for manipulation.
The leaves, it turned out, had
Absorbed all sound: you never made
The children squeal with laughter.
I had to look at tears on the drive
And quickly learn why quick-grown trees
Were planted in that spot;
Where schoolbags were thrown on stones
With the books exploding in crisp white leaves.
Uncreased: unread: unwritten.
Wanting a blueprint…
wanting not to feel
Like a wasteful demolition of a tree.
The woman in your life wants to make everything out of bread.
She wants to make her own bread, from scratch, and have you
out-of-pocket for the machine to put it into.
The woman in your life carries slices from corner to corner,
casting crumbs all over the floor which, lucky for her, no birds
will come inside to take; so she can find her way back without
the worry. She’ll make do with shop-bought but she’ll insist on
seeded and brown and say the other stuff just lies on top of
your bowel. You want to eat without thinking about bowels
and birds, but the woman in your life always says things
about the two when you have your mouth full and can’t reply.
She says eat your crusts, she says she doesn’t want your crusts,
she tells the children crusts will make their hair curly,
and you don’t want to hear the line about what they do for
the hairs on your chest. The birds will appreciate her,
the woman says. She’s bought a little house hung by rope
on a tree; it knocks in the wind. You are yet to see a creature
go into it. The house is empty bar the crusts: titbits for blue tits
or whatever else it is she watches out for.
The woman in your life once lined your bird cage with confetti
and you remember that because the air was a breath of
September incense, and the heat was still in it enough just
to solder off the dust; then, you made your own piece for work,
telling the joke about Paddy Irishman, throwing himself
from a crane because his sandwiches were always the same,
and yet he made his own, it turned out. You remember that
now, when the woman in your life has turned you into a child
and makes you a batch in cellophane; same as the kids’.
You recall that, last night, you looked out of the window;
a chimney-wolf was parting your clouds with his aerial broom.
He was distant enough for you to watch without realising.
The woman in your life puts your bag before you, her smile
letting you know that although you’re no longer her type
of anything, she wouldn’t see you without a crumb of everything.
Kelly Creighton is a poet and fiction writer. Her poetry collection Three Primes was published by Lapwing, Belfast, September 2013. She was awarded a grant for creative writing by Arts Council NI.
Kelly’s work is currently and forthcoming in literary journals The Stinging Fly, Long Story Short, Wordlegs, Ink Sweat & Tears, Skylight 47, Boyne Berries, A New Ulster and numerous other places.
She is writing her second novel and came second place in the Abroad Writers’ Conference Short Story Competition judged by Robert Olen Butler, and long listed for The RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland short story contest.