The Poem: “I was grotesque with summer, haloed” by Cecilia Knapp

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I was grotesque with the summer, haloed

and stained with light.
I gave up the shoes for months,
read books on practical steps.
I had a perfect little life, it was clear,
a rosy glow on my hands and face
even when sleeping in a cold room.
The boys politely followed me around the quad
offering smooth cigarettes.
It was another era!
I was thin as a running dog, a fragile thing
you could throw in the air
but I don’t remember being hungry,
we didn’t need food back then,
not in the same way.
I stayed up late most nights –
we all agreed that sleep was poor.
My deceased mother gave me a certain advantage,
a useful note of sympathy.
I cast my gaze with a flourish,
wore grandmother’s clothes. A better, simpler time.
You could pick up an old car
for less than a hundred pounds, and drive it
without seat belt,
all along the coast with men
you barely knew.
Of course a few of us had bruises
but boy did we know how to pump a clutch.
We were happy with our lot.
The world was pouring down on me, a barrel of ripe fruit
flipped over my head and I was sticky,
it was breathtaking.
My father had a lot of work, always seemed absent.
People sent letters; it was a golden age!
There was this brief sick fight of crying
that left me below deck in a tangle of blankets,
there was sex on the floor of a basement
but it was still a misty joy to be alive.
And there was my brother
wobbling, circling the drain,
but we were stronger then, didn’t need as much,
smiled saying it could be worse.
Plus, I was pretty good at picking it up.
We made it a game, a frivolous time! Magic!
All the fuckin’ seaside tinted pink
as if the sun could set forever.

From ‘Peach Pig’ (Published Oct 6 by Corsair Poetry, £10.99)


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