Home Fires

Issue 1

It was the road that stifled me.
Suburban trees standing as if sentries,
making sure you didn’t leave.
The forced smiles of bay windows
hiding what really went on inside.
In the distance,
steel eyes watched chain smoking stacks,
the end of work sirens releasing their black captives,
coughing a trail of coal dust and emphysema,
brass bands played at their wake.
Under middle-aged pillows, the taunting scent of heather,
a reminder of a day of erotica on the Yorkshire Moors.
There is good news, a new Tesco at the end of the road,
no more melting summer ice cream carried home
on the seventy-five bus that always ran late.
In spring, daffodils brighten the shade, those kicked and broken
I picked in anticipation of my mother’s smile.
She remembers none of that now as I hold her hand,
anchoring her still to this world,
her mind as broken as the daffodils.

I chose the open road,
washed off grime in the Himalaya’s,
thought about the pen pushers in the tower of steel,
their jealous words I don’t believe you will go
as green as the phlegm
that filled their neatly embroidered handkerchiefs.
In Greece, on a white beach in Parga,
my body, then, the shape of a sand filled hourglass,
ate baklava with walnuts and cinnamon,
drank warm wine I had cooled in the sea,
read My Family and Other Animals,
the book I had read for the school exam
while plotting my escape.

Returning home this winter to an empty house,
the dead limbs of tree branches lay, frozen with ice,
while the fires of the crematorium still burn my ears.

Linda Ibbotson is a poet, artist and photographer from the UK, currently residing in Co. Cork. Her wanderlust and love of classical piano has taken her around the world to photograph events. Her work has been published internationally, including in The Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Poethead, and more. Most invaluably, she finds listening to other poets a great inspiration. She writes a poetry and arts blog: ‘Contemplating the Muse.’