Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

THE ONE

by FRANCES BAILLIE


 
Look at that misunderstood child …
 
The one who used her mother’s chipped, chalk ornaments
To draw ‘boxies’ on Dundee pavements,
who had never seen those posh cylinders of school-blackboard chalk …
and thinking it was Edinburgh Rock, ate a whole boxful.
 
The one who hacked open the kaleidoscope to find
no vibrant, stained-glass plates to admire.
Only hundreds of cascading, plastic beads,
Tiny jewels, scattering, rattling everywhere over faded lino.
 
The one who cut open the cushion, scooped out the flock
and added it to the pot to make even more mince to feed the family.
 
The one who pulled the heads and limbs off dolls
to see how they were fixed on,
then got upset while because she couldn’t put them back again.
 
The one who picked snapdragons in the university grounds,
dodging the jannie and his alsation
taking the gift home , only to get sent to bed – again.
Why?  There were drifts of them, delicious like popcorn on sticks.
Enough to share – they’d taught me to share!
 
The one who took cellophaned blankets to Kelbie’s Ragstore
to get money for a Boots’ treat for Mum,
3 smiling dalmations with chains round their necks
to put on that long-ago mantelpiece.
Mother cried – maybe about those blankets.
 
The one playing at the Dental Hospital who ripped her best summer dress
on the tumbly bars and walked home in dread, but …
‘We all make mistakes’, her mother said.
 
Just a child
learning about the weird world
which is now understood …
even less.
 
 
 
 
 

Added: 22.04.2011

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