Handwriting

by Elizabeth Trew

They found you alive in the morgue,
scars on your tough, battered face
from your head-on crash

re-set nose, cheekbone and jaw
stitched back your skin
your head held in place by a cage

Sis! somebody said to you in your cage
Go for plastic surgery, your mother begged

choosing instead a far country
to mend post-office mailbags  alone
A blackbird sang to me all summer long, you said

Back home sunburn imprinted on skin
mending mailbags again in the courtyard jail

when I caught your first tear behind soundless glass
in the visitor’s room, our country apart in a cage

Writing to me from your cell
I dreamed of your tear and your head

tough builder’s hands, the flight of birds
song of your chest, sheen of your back

dovetailing raisin-sweet salt,
decades mending skin

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Break-up

by Pam Newham

They say to write a strong poem you need sorrow.
They say misery sharpens edges.
They say dejection gives the lines grit.
They say melancholy leads to what is true.

But, if that’s the case how is it,
on such a day,
this is the best I can do?

Rift

by Annette Snyckers

I could attempt
the journey
to your world,
but it seems so far,
so difficult,
and even if
arrival was possible,
you might stop me
at passport control,
have me searched
for ulterior motives,
refuse entry.

Then,
on barren soil
delusions would bloom,
disputes flourish,
wounds bleed seeds.

In the end
the harvest
bitter,
and we,
the reapers —
the losers.

Versus

by Elizabeth Trew

How we split in two –
friend or foe against another

as opposing sides in a field –
two armies powered for war
two soccer teams at play

two wrestlers in a ring who circle and dance
like lovers too shy to touch, when the star
drives a fist hard into the belly of the other
spread-eagled and groaning on the floor

or two lovers – like Adam and Eve
playful and naked under their tree
before Eve takes a bite of her crimson apple
and paradise fades

or the sounds of a man and woman falling out of love
fully clothed, caught in a squall
of their courtroom drama,
torn apart.

My Grandmothers’ Hands

by Elizabeth Trew

Grandma Helen’s hands were soft and white
spotted brown from African sun,
hands made to crochet long coloured strips
she’d stitch together – striped covers for family beds.
Hands to carry her work-bag of wool
hands to smooth huge feathered hats
hands to shuffle visiting cards
hands that played an upright piano.
She’d sit at the foot of my bed slowly plying her wool
with her crochet hook and sing sharply
her favourite song to me:
Count your blessings!
Count them one-by-one.

Farmor Karen’s hands were strong and red
used to shovelling Nordic snow,
hands to tend rows of raspberry canes
hands to dig and plant
and harvest potatoes
hands to bake bread, light fires
feed the pig and hold a farmer’s crook
to drive sheep up to their summer pasture.
Hands that tied her headscarf tight.
On a visit to the family seter
I placed fresh flowers upon her grave
and ceremonially watered them.
Family say I am like her.