Every Christmas, much like Morecambe and Wise,
his challenge was to top the previous year's offering,
recompensing her for that year’s delinquency of
shoplifting porn or bailiffs dowsing for the water bill.
Mother would thrust a citrine pendant or suede coat before
grandmother and sister, eliciting a grudging glance and curt
‘That’s nice’ from women whose own husbands’ tributes
were a dose of bath salts and a tenner to ‘buy yourself something’.
His practical joke, a cheap brooch nestled like a snake
under the tree, whilst the white gold watch was hung
beside the Boxing Day ‘fun presents’, led to a spectacular
sulk that that lasted through Christmas Day.
After his funeral, they all left, slamming the front door
behind them. She was forced to downgrade to a Lego brick
bungalow on a council estate, and began to reward herself
with presents until the insurance money ran out.
The cost of her company became an item from her running gift
list. She paraded down the high street, jewelled as a starling,
shielded behind Yves Saint Laurent sunglasses, sheathed in a
wolf skin coat, a crocodile handbag basking on her arm.
Eventually she was forced at bill point to mug herself;
snatched the Ceylonese bracelet from her wrist to settle a gas bill;
tore the citrine pendant from her neck to pay the electricity;
ripped diamond rings from her fingers to keep a car on the road.
Ten minutes pacing and she would plunge into the pawnbrokers
with an elaborate cover story, feigning interest in other items whilst
waiting for his decision like the results of a biopsy. Afterwards, she
painfully probed the tender cavities of her diminishing jewellery drawer.
Since her possessions could not be buried with her
like a pharaoh, her daughter was instructed to use the
bedroom floor as anvil reducing the remaining jewellery
to scrap value, then turn serial killer and slash her furs.
Twenty years later, her daughter tutors at twilight, furtively
peeping to see if the hand has crawled past the half hour,
and in summer marks a tower of exam scripts like an impossible
labour in a Fairy Tale. She does not prudently save the money but
profligately buys designer handbags whose possession quickens
her body like a lover. And as she peacocks in public with them
on her arm, she dreads the day when she must snatch
them from her grasp one by one and hawk them on EBay.
If you've any comments on these poems, Fiona Sinclair would be pleased to hear them.