Five Poems by Valerie Morton
After your funeral I take a detour down
to the dodgy end, searching for that house
of chattering rooms, expecting to see Mary
in her too-bright kaftan and the sounds
of reggae rapping from her open windows.
And to find you in that ground-brushing
wraparound skirt, sashaying towards me
so I could re-assure you: I didn’t take lilies,
but jazzy gerberas - your favourites.
I'd never want you to know
that where we once thought the world lived
in our pockets, stands row on row
of pristine mews in bourgeois leafiness;
that the rich mishmash of our footprints
has been demolished to make way
for ‘highly desirable living’.
(published in South Bank Poetry (London) Issue 12)
Neither Here nor There
She'd brought back a suitcase stuffed
with gold-threaded saris,
Round her neck a marigold garland,
and on the right wrist
of hennaed hands
a Sikh bangle – the kara –
to guard against misfortune,
keep her safe. But in this heavy
grey English light
they are misfits, like her – a clash
of continents. She packs away
saris, hides the scent
of sandalwood, hangs
drying marigolds in her kitchen.
Rubber gloves choke the henna –
its colour fades
but she is afraid to wash
in case it vanishes altogether
along with fans of peacocks
and the wake up call
of a gobi wallah. If they stay
longer in her head she can ignore
that pencil skirt in her wardrobe
and the 7.55 am commuter train
loitering at the station.
(first published in Sarasvati 037, Indigo Dreams Publishing 2015)
The moment her heart
flutters – stops –
she sees her daughter fade
into earth, a green beanie hat
submerged in moss:
feathers drifting like cradles
that carry weightless bodies
to a place with no name.
Silence as breath freezes – time
holds on to itself,
until there it is – a faint beat
and the child turns. Light pours in,
warms her back.
(from forthcoming collection Handprints soon to be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing -
www.indigodreams.co.uk/ - Nov/Dec 2015)
Perhaps it was you, about to depart
or the dingy Paris bar tucked
in that smoky corner of the platform,
but nothing since has tasted
so sweet, so perfectly right –
as if goodbye was the vital trace
that would stay on our tongues.
Oblivious to comings and goings,
the smell of steam, the sound
of whistles, we dipped our noses
into rosewater, lychee and apricot,
unable to imagine that one day
we'd be sitting on different sides
of the world drinking it – chilled.
If You Walk Early
as the moon gives up her watch
and the sun flirts with the horizon,
you may see small footprints
among the pine needles –
the scuff where a skirt
riffled the ground. Listen
for the sounds of laughter
in water burbling over stones.
Watch the mist lift
from the forest floor, moist
from overnight rain and inhale
the energising pines.
Remove your shoes, feel
the soft needled mattress
relax your toes, and be glad
you rose from your bed.
Here are creatures I’ve yet
to meet, tree names I’ve yet
to learn. An owl makes
a last hunting call as day-birds
begin to open the curtains,
letting sun splice through
the high canopy spilling on me,
craning my neck to catch the sky.
Valerie Morton’s love for poetry began at an early age when her mother would recite poetry while cooking as a reward for after she’d done her homework. In her early 20s Valerie wrote and had published a number of poems but then marriage and family took up all her time. After her children left home she did an Open University Degree which included Creative Writing, graduated in 2011, and since then has taught CW at a mental health charity and has been involved in a number of creative writing projects. Her poems have been published in a number of magazines, online, and have won and been placed in competitions. Her first collection Mango Tree was published in 2013 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. Her second collection Handprints is due out shortly (Nov/Dec 2015) also from Indigo Dreams.
Valerie is a member of Ver Poets and runs workshops from her home. In January 2016 she becomes Poet in Residence at a local Pinetum. She lives by the River Lee in rural Hertfordshire, UK where she enjoys the natural inspiration of her environment.