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Lorraine Mariner

Testing the new filling in my mouth with my tongue

I’m walking to the station from the dentist’s,

when the man who’d sat opposite me in the waiting room

pulls up in his car, guesses where I’m headed, offers me a lift.

Though he could be the father of any of my friends,

a serial granddad, I don’t know him from Adam,

couldn’t possibly say yes, but when I say no thanks

he seems so offended, puts his foot down as I quicken my steps.

Watching his tail lights disappear around the corner,

along with an earlier train to my job in the city,

I’m sorry it’s not a September morning four hundred years ago.


He’d have been certain to know my husband

and I’d have been on my way to market to sell the last

of my lettuces. I’d have hopped on to the back of his cart

along with my six children and a goat, which my third youngest

had insisted on bringing. He’d have told me about his five sons,

seven daughters and thirty nine surviving grandchildren,

one of whom was bound to be called Adam. Then my Cuthbert

would have started singing a popular ballad to his beloved goat,

in time to the steady clop of the hooves of the horse,

and we’d have all joined in, our teeth (untouched by sugar)

sparkling in the fully filtered light.


From The Rialto No 66 (Spring 2009)