Alphabet Soup


My host’s name has slipped my mind
but I remember this view from her window.
A gaff-rigger with red duster sails is working
up the river on a   p   pfuh   port tack…

Tonight I’ll construct a mobile of that red sea-tortoise.
For a sail, I’ll varnish this elm leaf from her garden
and stroke its shroud lines with licks of cherry red.
Granny’s ceilings were strung all year round

with Christmas decorations. Crepe suspension
bridges hardened into reefs of fly-spray, dust
and cigarette smoke that swayed in a southerly breeze
like stately kites from old Cathay.

In an arguable   arbitrary   art gallery I see
Recollections of an old town by Lloyd Rees.
There are dry-stone tuning fork walls. Jasmine,
dark and shadowy green, clothes its hungry hills.

Light rises – dense, speckled, never illuminating.
Rees went catatonic after his wife died.
I know in my red duster waters he painted Recollections
after crawling back from those hills.

In the gallery shop I ask   Do you sell p po pos
by Rees? P   ossessions   amphlets.
Bluff, sip alphabet soup. Post-moderns?  
Posters?                                         Postcards!      

Granny played Shotgun Boogie on her piano
as I colored in the Prussian blue jackets
of Donald’s Duck’s three nephews…
Huey, Dewey and Louie! See how well

I recollect every nephew duck….
This fallen elm leaf from my host’s garden
I’ll make into a sail. Varnish it. Shellac it.
Harden it like the echoes in my lobes.

A book by a man with a wife in a hat
tells me about Patient X in Moscow.
The leucotomy of his middle cortex
was botched. Every day

X had to re-learn his who and why.
Every day he pleaded to see
his long dead Uncle Ivan
and had to grieve again.

Yet X remembered Ivan. Tobacco smells,
reflections from eye-high buttons,
the tickle of stubble on chin…
Love survived the surgeon’s saw

My host has a name like a afuh   apple.
But her face is dark and shadowy
like Rees’s hungry hills and her ceiling
is strung with mobiles of red duster sails

that swing through the points
of the compass, setting the old house adrift
as if we are all turning in air
She is an apple woman.

Her name is like D   for   Delicious.
E   F   G   Jon…a…than?
I remember. She’s G for Granny…
Granny            Duck

Roger Vickery