Born in Middlesbrough in 1973, Angela Readman completed her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle. She has published two full length poetry collections and several shorter collections. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in a number of magazines, including Envoi and Mslexia.
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“Poppies” is the first poem in the collection.
I could have slept in the poppies for a hundred years,
and would not have thanked the one who woke me.
I’d have taken off the ruby slip-ons, rubbed the blisters,
and made inside the red my home.
I wouldn’t have missed you.
A man wearing someone else’s face
may have visited, yet would have been you just the same.
Courage is just another abstract,
like friendship, and all the hearts you seek
grow on stubbled stalks, clot
their residue onto your sleeve.
I could have stayed, not been your girl in Kansas,
waited for the wooden house and rocking chair
to cyclone their way into pieces, reassemble
a helter-skelter house above my head.
I could have never learnt to bake apple pie,
or dance with a field hand,
or be told I was too old to climb a fence
and sleep by the foal in the barn.
I’d let the gas lamp in there flicker,
and travellers approach.
They’d come into my parlour,
and take off their shoes.
My inviting room with the stove on,
so tempting you’d never notice
there’s nobody home.
Since only the two of us were inhaling,
you could have gone on to the envious city
in your snow-globe eyeball.
Your scarecrow gait leaking blood for ravens,
Tinman crying that I slept on,
until his eyes rust to half shut.
You should have gone on
to buy paper poppies,
place a wreath on a carved marble dog,
and left us.
Just me and the lion
curled together in dreams,
feeding flying monkeys
that breathe in the dust on our skin.
Read more of Angela’s poems on Laura Hird’s website