Tag Archives: Shadow Train Books

Annie Clarkson’s ‘These Things Happened’

These Things Happened
Annie Clarkson
walked like a woman with broken heels across pavements
bags trailing with open zips, hair splitting with braids
scuff-eyed and frozen with bruises rich as honey
with hands grazed along knuckles from punching drunk
on the backs of garages when you weren’t watching
when you were busy with your lips on a cold neck
a shoulder, a face almost pinned to your collar
my skin scraped blue and without thought or reason
to confront you I became the colour of rain
stole leaves from sycamore trees
ripped them from branches and rubbed them like balm
into my cuts, into the dark nettle of these sores
until they stung like wasps and scarred my bones
they were friends these bandage and ointment days
they were winter lovers I held against my skin
under horsehair blankets, under mohair,
under wool nights I became a green song
later, washed in the ice and mud of puddles
scrubbed elbow to toe with pumice
and stones picked from disused quarries
leaving myself nine times at the edge
when you weren’t watching
when you were sleeping
I became hard as gravel
First published in Winter Hands (Shadow Train Books, 2007).

Annie Clarkson’s ‘Frida’

Annie Clarkson

She lies on a bed of stones, bruised by feathers, worn by the turning of clock hands. Her forehead is creased with troubled sleep, her mouth twitching the beginning of words. She’s dreaming. Maybe of crumbling buildings or white rooms with no doors, or beds without pillows. She never remembers the details, wakes with tension in her neck, a crowded head.
She drinks tequila for breakfast in tiny shot glasses, wipes sweat from her face, and waits for her husband to bring home beads for her neck, a poem, a blood orange. He is gone a long time. She unwraps ornaments from newspaper, curls her hair in rags, pinches her cheeks to give them colour. She wishes she could split one half of her from the other – sit in out-of-town bars, soak her skin in alcohol, lie with men who have coarse stubble and rough hands. She would wrap herself in their sweat, see if her husband noticed.
Instead she rubs her skin with lychees, lets her curls tumble onto her shoulders and waits barefoot. He comes home tired, but drawn to her. He kisses her cheek then pulls back, with questions on his lips. He tells her she tastes of lost summers and a trip to the beach once when they were first lovers.
First published in Winter Hands (Shadow Train Books, 2007).
Visit Annie’s blog, forgetting the time.