Dust covers my legs and arms
as I crawl into bushes for the reddest fruit,
but it doesn’t climb over Dad’s boots.
Dad’s fingers are knobbly and fat
but when he holds the strawberries
they don’t squish.
I am red and sticky.
He gives me the brightest to taste
Only the shiny red eyes see,
winking for miles.
At home, I stand on a chair to stir the pan,
the oven is covered with bubbles of frothy jam,
not quite set but not running away.
A splash drops.
I watch it glisten for a second, then go dull.
The first jar explodes.
We blink, glimmering with tiny sparkles
that stick to the fruit on our shirts.
Dad brushes some off his arm but it bites,
leaving a new red.
He spends so long blowing
the flickers from my skin
that all the jam sets in the pan.
He wafts into the shop with the cigarette butts
and strikes children dumb with his smell.
He buys himself cream cakes from M&S
where the clean people linger as well.
A little fat man with a pinched in face,
hunched and bald and doesn’t speak sense.
Jumper gold egg yolk and yolked in egg too,
Coins moist in his grip, his wormy veins blue.
He brings sheets from his diary, from ’55.
To change them to colour, make them more alive.
They’re spat out warm; magenta, yellow, cyan blue.
I make extras in black so I can read them too.
Maybe his room is plastered with tales
of an unhunched youth, striding tall,
and the colours delight him when he wakes at night
and the moonlight caresses his wall.
Your duvet is thoroughly crumpled,
discarded on the floor.
Your man has fled to the bathroom
to scrape his slimed body raw.
You sit up and try not to think of
the hot dribble that creeps to the bed
as he washes your scent off his body
and savours his quietened head.
Your heart beats on its ribbed prison,
your toes and your knee muscles flex.
Every synapse and nerve is aquiver
with the jitter of incomplete sex.
A wild bird broken and caught in a sheet,
folded, with wings crumpled in.
He returns and sleeps on the dry side.
Your eyes glisten in the dark room.
Visit us again on Valentines Day for more of Clare’s Poetry!