Pat Jourdan

The mad girl had long, bright red hair; it was wiry, like a pan-scrubber and if ironed out straight would have been over a yard long.

"I've just seen Our Lady", she said, without any preliminaries. "She was standing at the top of our stairs".

Helen, who less than an hour ago had been walking along this street being Princess Elizabeth herself, took this in her stride.

"That's nice. Did she say anything to you?"

"No, she didn't, that was the trouble. I was just going to ask her a favour when our dog barked and she sort of faded away. Just like that".

She stopped and clutched harder.

"Do you think she'll come back? Do you?"

from Average Sunday Afternoon


 

Sepia 

The emigrants are proud,

the emigrants are economical:

they all crowd together in one photograph.

Here is the sepia testimony

as they stare into our future gaze.

To save money

and because they cannot write,

the two wives, sitting,

display their wedding rings

like hostages with a day's newspaper.

The two husbands denote marriage

by standing, gripping the backs of the chairs,

a little gesture of protection

in the safety of the photographer's studio.

Both wives look devoted and sincere,

all this semaphore and signage

before their future audience.

But a spare man loiters,

handsome cousin, at the back,

suddenly available in this new Liverpool

and waiting for his chance.

from Turpentine
First Traces

My mother used to go berserk

when I coughed up blood.

I didn't care. To a child

the coloured gobs looked pretty,

yellow, orange, vermilion,

the contained pools. Mine.

Parts of me, exploding out

into the enamel bowl.

Wet patches, first paintings

never bettered.

from Turpentine