Monday, 8 October 2012

Runners up Poem 4: City of Grace by Mike Ellwood

Plungington Road and the bucking bus
Is STOPPING at Adelphi Dentists’. In trackie and trainers,
Nike, plastic-black with white tick and wedges,

She foots the buggy’s break and parks it in the aisle.
One hand, tattooed with the Lamb and Flag,
Extended, grips the metal bar. The packed bus lurches,

But the child is safe: Mum holds hard the pram
To battle with the brake-surge. Stopped, the bus exhales
And bows. She struggles off, having thanked the driver.


Under the City Coat of Arms she waits for service.
 Hollow-cheeked, buck-toothed, lank grey hair,
 “It’s about a bus-pass,” she begins, leaning on the counter.

“But you don’t look old enough,” kids the man,
Words that will be repeated to a busy stacker
In the aisle at Aldi, and later to a patient neighbour.

At bed-time she wipes the mirror,
“But you don’t look old enough,” she whispers,
And kisses, in air, a sweet face that was younger.


Pale disc of sun through drizzle transforms: slates gleam,
Leaves shine out. It tickles her nose and chin.
With a tissue she clears her spectacles of moisture.

That evening at the Centre there’ll be show-time,
Tambourines, the pretty music teacher
And friends and parents to applaud her.

This is her city, a source of grace, a place of wonder.
Her eyes sometimes dwell on the face of the lamb:
Serene, triumphant; she feels love surround her.

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