Mathew Martin

 

Family Photo Album

 

like apples, the commoners of fruit,

the men and women face the camera, fallen and bruised

by the soot-blackened bricks into which

the gravity of their working-class lives propelled them,

the hard lines of the tenements.

 

 in the wedding photos the faces are scrubbed and softened,

men in uniforms, women in bows, gloves and fitted dresses:

shined on empire's dirty sleeve

before their skin is bitten through to the core;

then tossed, juice spilled, seed scattered.

 

 only the children strike the eye with fragrance,

still bending the bough and sucking the sap

that feeds their flesh’s succulence.

in vertiginous delight they dare the camera

to watch them grow bigger.

 


History and Geography Lessons

 

restless in the scorching Niagara summer night,

my body aches for it,

longs to remember

the skin-tingling, breath-taking collision

with a cold and still prairie winter morning:

it brings you up sharp.

 

these photographs arouse no such longings.

they are my family’s English history,

proof perhaps of the myths my parents told me

of a burning empire and a new found land.

but they are photographs: I touch only the edges.

 

who then are you, and whither are you going

bright little boy, last of the line

of photographs my mother assembled for me?

 

 
Beeston Fields

 

at Beeston Fields my father knocked the local boys

for six, bowled their innings out, sent them

packing, limp bats dragging over the pitch

recalls my father’s old mate as he tunes

his glass on mine, toasting the giver of such golden

memories, across the foam-stained expanse

of the bar table gazing to find my father

ghosted.

         in tweed, I killed him

as he slew his saturnine Welsh farmer sire

with every stump-splitting dipping googley he hurled.

merely a murderer’s shadow now, he plants

peas and beans and potatoes in the spring, giving

away bags of frozen vegetables to the neighbours.

I cannot bury him.  there is no body

to bury.

         last call at the mead-hall

long since passed.  night’s low tide

of neon and mercury vapour light washes

up human forms, beer bottles and other

scattered treasures of the shipwrecked day.

searching for my hotel I find myself

my father’s son: just as he taught me,

I lick my lips and whistle

in the dark.

 

 

t p u

Mathew Martin


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Sentinel Poetry (Online) #45August 2006   ISSN 1479-425X

THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF POETRY & GRAPHICS...since December 2002

Editor: Amatoritsero Ede

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