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Best of Irish Poetry 2010
Editor: Matthew Sweeney
Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition
Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes
Munster Literature Centre
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Angela Readman completed an MA in film studies at Newcastle University, and followed it with an MA in creative writing at University of Northumbria. Her poetry has won the Biscuit Competition and Ragged Raven, and has appeared in Ambit, Staple, Mslexia and The Times. Her collection, Strip, narrative poems about women and the porn industry was published by Salt Publishing in 2007. She currently lives in Newcastle and is writing short stories again secretly.
‘He’s not coming,’ she said. Then she said it again. She walked to the window and looked out, her words on the window like a dragon.
‘He is coming. He is,’ the child said, as if it would make him come. She kicked her feet back and forth from the chair like a cartoon run not going anywhere. Her mother spoke, breath spreading like smoke. The child would not believe her. She closed her eyes and thought, ‘when I open them, he’ll be here’, then she opened them again. All that was there was the mother making noise and fog.
The child put on her coat and pulled up the hood. Snug, ready to be handed over. In her head she played The Addams Family theme. Her mother said things that made her ears ache. She heard whispering in gran’s kitchen sometimes, them saying things.
‘He showed up late again.’
‘He would, when the pub closed I bet.’
He. Her gran would use no other word to describe the father, just like she never said rat because it was unlucky, instead she only said long tail.
‘My Daddy will come, he loves me,’ the child said.
The child closed her eyes again. Outside was sparkling, sharp looking; when she blinked he’d be here, like when she went to sleep and found outside had been breathed on by December. She closed her eyes and opened them, then closed them again. When she opened them he was there. A curly head bobbing past the window, the door opened before he lifted his finger to the bell.
‘5 o’ clock,’ the mother said. Sometimes she said a lot more and he drove away with an empty passenger seat.
The child’s father scooped up the child and carried her to the car. He was warm, soft, his smell all around her like a blanket.
‘I knew you’d come, I knew,’ she said, wrapping her fingers in her father’s side burns, jiggling on his belly beneath.
They went to the sweet shop, like always. He lifted her up to the counter so her hand hovered over the brightly coloured packets. The lady behind the counter, who tutted when she couldn’t decide what she wanted in her mix-up, let her pick and feel important. He never got impatient when she couldn’t decide. Not a mix up in a small paper bag but grown up candy. Big bags like at the cinema, red and yellow sparkling in the girl’s eyes. He handed her a note and let her hand it over, ‘anything you want.’
The car was warm and smelt like Christmas. The child tapped the cardboard pine tree dangling from the mirror as he pulled up outside a building with windows like hazy boxes of smoke.
‘I have to go in here for important business,’ he said, ‘you wait here, OK? I’ll lock the doors.’
‘OK’, she said, opening a packet, placing a chocolate in her mouth and trying to remove the outsides without squishing everything inside. He rubbed her head like a mascot for good luck and went into the building.
Frost steadily spread a white fur on the bonnet. Next to the parked car was a white van. A small grumpy dog with a dirty chin stared at the girl and pushed his muzzle up to the cracked down window. The child kept chewing. She watched the smoky windowed building. Old men staggered in laughing, chatting, a woman tottered and fell from her heels as her hand grabbed for an arm. Her father waved from the window. She waved like a window wiper, then saw only the back of his head. He came out with a small bottle of coke and opened the car door. He was smiling, pink faced as he handed her the drink.
‘You OK in there?’ he said. Then he went back into the building with the picture of a rose inside a crown painted outside. The windows got icy; like shattered stars the ice spread across the glass. She closed her eyes as it started to get dark.
When her father came back he opened his mouth, stuffed mints inside, turned on the engine and the car lurched away.
Outside his old house he opened the car door.
‘Daddy’s business trip’s secret. When your mother asks, say we went to the park,’ he said, ‘OK?
The child nodded.
‘That’s my girl,’ he said, ‘next Saturday we can go see the deer.’
Last week he’d said the same, but then today he had important business anyway, but he still came. She hugged her father and walked down the path as her mother opened the door.
‘Did you have a good time?’ her mother said.
The child thought of sweets in their shiny wrappers, her father’s belly and the bottle of pop with the bendy straw as she said yes.
©2010 Angela Readman
'Accidental Poet': Angela Readman website
Readman at Salt Publishing
Poetry by Readman showcased at laurahird.com