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poems beginning with D by Jehanne Markham

Poems are catalogued alphabetically. Please select a specific section by clicking on the the alphabet above.

Click on title to see poems:
DADDY IS DYING
DADDY READS DICKENS
DAYS OF THE WEEK
DO NOT LOOK BITTERLY



DADDY IS DYING

An azalea petal fell upon the polished table,
It was a bad omen,
My mother knew,
So they were not really surprised
When the consultant murmured about abnormal cells with
Secondaries in the neck,
But they still cried.

The surgeon promised to do his best
And cut him open from ear to chest.
He sat in the hospital grounds
Looking bemused and triumphant
In his old silk dressing gown.
He thought surviving the operation
Meant he was cured.
The nylon stitches stretched down
In a long line of black kisses.

On my next visit
He got dressed slowly.
The young summer day blew up
Hot in our faces
As we walked along the glittering pavement.
Then back he went,
Like a distinguished guest,
Through the revolving doors of the Royal Marsden,
To his cubical bed to rest.

When the pain grew worse
He wondered if the operation had been a success.
The consultant was very relaxed,
He lay on the bed and crossed his legs.
"The neck is completely clear,
But I'd like you to have some chemotherapy,
Just to allay any fear."


When he came home
He listened to the radio a lot,
Sometimes he'd jot things down in a notebook,
Once he wrote,
"The sheer joy of having cancer,"
For a joke.

Day after day
Ma takes up his tray.
The meals get smaller and smaller:
A doll's plate of fish,
A spoon of lemon pudding
Until there's nothing left but water.

It's plain to all,
Daddy is dying.
He lies with his face to the wall
Or on his back, sighing.
The District Nurse comes daily,
The rooms in the house ache.

Mama is a broken ship
Gone aground by the garden wall.
She lies in the bright new grass,
Her sobs shake up all her timbers,
Her tears are melting her bones.

from Twenty Poems Rough Winds 1999

DADDY READS DICKENS

Daddy reads Dickens in the green chair,
slowly and thoughtfully
in a sweet and authoritative tone.
Holding the fat, green book, in one hand,
he turns the thick, crinkle-edged pages with other,
pausing over the scratchy black and white pictures
to let us look at gentlemen in tailcoats and slipper shoes,
ladies with white, mopey faces.
They are mysterious and sexy in a weird way,
sitting at table with a plate of half eaten mutton chops,
wine in a black bottle.
The cross-hatched pen strokes
marking out the gloom and vitality of each character
like the history of rooms on a rainy day.

from Ambit 202 2010

DAYS OF THE WEEK

Monday, pearly grey,
Paris roof tops, I cling to the ridge tiles
with the pink claws of a dove.

Tuesday, green, deep and dark with bright outlines,
a pinewood at break of day.
A stream flowing, something I know,
dry leaves, a path that leads on.

The down side is an empty garage,
two old tyres, dampness in the air,
cans of oil and a birdcage.

Wednesday, mushroom coloured,
an eighteenth century patisserie,
twinkling chandeliers and walls of pistachio.
I wish I had a novel to read.

Thursday, Burnt Sienna, I like Thursday,
it's dark and interesting.
I'm sitting by the fire dreaming of Coleridge.

Friday, burnt bacon and workmen's tea.
A gathering of strangers in the stranger's hall.
What's in my box? Cakes of paint
and vagabond shoes pointing to the door.

Saturday, orange and pink.
A lady should never despair about the colour of her nails,
her down trodden shoes or her rinsed hair.
The fridge is full.

Sunday, milky blue, like the Cote d'Azur on a winter's day.
Bells are ringing , for life or love –
leave the window open.

from Thirty Poems  Rough Winds 2004

DO NOT LOOK BITTERLY

Do not look bitterly
At me
Balancing so light and empty
On the palm of your hand

Once I could hide you
In the darkness of each eye
And your head beneath my hands
Mended and grew heavy

If for a short time
I have become tiny
Trying to scrape a hollow
In your out-stretched palm

I only ask
That from your distance
You might wait
Realising my fear

Of the blood that fills my mouth
Which I can neither swallow
Or part with.

from The Captain's Death Soul 1974