Looking Through Loupes
Like the optician’s testing frames impressing their weight
on the bridge of my nose, with grooves and slots for lenses
and a world suddenly blurred or cleared with the snap of a shutter,
these are a lightweight version. The mini flip down binoculars jerk
your face millimetres from mine and by the lining up of light
and optics expand each lash into separate tapering filaments.
Gloved, gowned and illuminated by the great bowl
of the theatre light looking on with its own astonished eyes,
I focus lens to lens, anticipating the discovery of secrets.
Through your chemically dilated pupil I see your anatomy;
blood vessels forking across your retina like the static electricity
in a plasma ball and if I could only put my finger on it,
I could draw your spark towards me.
The Rain Trees of Singapore
Saman, Shirish, Shade tree.
Tangles of branches,
strands of brown hair fanned
out on a pillow,
the puzzle of light stretching
down from the surface,
vast umbrella canopies
Then I learnt that when it rains, they fold
their leaves to protect only themselves.
I feel your arm dropping
from my shoulder,
see a small bird showing off
the complexity of its notes;
vibrating a taut membrane,
then twitching away
Jesus and the Snorty Pigs
You had a magpie’s eye for the religion they offered
at the church playgroup at the end of the road.
We said grace for a while until the excitement of chips
one day made you forget. You collected the little booklets
they gave out, and knew them from their covers;
Jesus and the poorly man, Jesus and the snorty pigs.
At Easter we didn’t have a rock to heave away from a cave
so you hid behind the sofa and were born again
from a rolled-up rug, unwound with a flourish
on the living room floor. Again, again you shouted
until we drew the line at the tenth coming and settled
on a celebratory feast of squash and custard creams.
When we took you back that night
you bounced up the path and rang the bell but forgot
to put on your going home face as you shouted
Mum, Mum, I’ve been Jesus today and been borned again.
When she slammed the door, the flowers on the peony
dropped one after the other and lay purple at our feet.
Waiting for Summer to Start
You were coughed out of the exam hall suspended with your mates like droplets
in a breath quivering with Brownian motion. Vibrating around each other until
collisions sent you off in twos and threes on wobbling trajectories. Shushed by
teachers shouldering their responsibility and you shrugging yours off, leaving for
the last time but you don’t look back because when you’re eighteen what are last
Like an actor in a single shot street scene it’s all down on film; your walk into town , the precise colour of clouds, the lightness of your feet on tarmac, how suddenly the air seems easier to breathe, while outside the pound shop there’s still a queue of people with nothing to do but wait for the bus and check on their phones that the world’s still there and scales peel off the trunks of London Planes like scabs.
The girl in the chip shop is waiting for summer to start but you can feel the sand gritty between your toes, hear the shouts of your mates as you kick the ball, see the girls roll their eyes when you take off your shirt, taste the Jaeger bombs and the late night vodka and watch the sea stretch out blackly forever, and time looks like one of your Granddad’s old maps folding and unfolding until the top hangs over the edge of the table, just out of sight.
Ilse Pedler has had poetry published in several magazines and anthologies. She has been placed in a number of poetry competitions and won the 2015 Mslexia Pamphlet Competition. Her pamphlet, The Dogs That Chase Bicycle Wheels, was published by Seren in March 2016. Recently she was shortlisted in the National Poetry Competition and was the poet in residence at Sidmouth Folk Week this summer. In between writing poetry, she works as a veterinary surgeon in Saffron Walden.