Thirteen at Fifteen
Each of us is stood where we’re stood
on a brink of pure fire, and sometimes we dread
what we might step off into – and always we can’t wait!
Stanley Lack, Apprentice Motorworks; Thomas Ward,
Apprentice Mounter; Bill Armstrong, Press Messenger;
The end of our streets, our manor; no longer
the whole world. A night out, clean shaved, neck-tied
eye-glinted, the pub or Canterbury or Ring:
Hugh Coker, Reading Boy; Victor Philpott,
Apprentice Compositor; Jim Potts, Office Boy;
And some of us not quite there yet, ever
hopeful, or with our parents weather eye
on something “worth waiting for…”
Benjamin Beeching, at home: Edith Welch,
school girl; Roderick Hutchinson, schoolboy;
There will never come a time when we won’t be
stood in the doorway, heads turned
looking out towards the main road – saying
our names; Elsie Parker, Sweet Maker;
Wilf Threadgill, Invoice Clerk; Fred Attfield,
Apprentice Tailor; Gertie Maisie, Sweet Packer.
The Nightman comes when you most expect him to, in your dread of him.
Edgeless, shadowless, even when lights from late-up neighbours cast rays
across the yard, and no-one you can see is there, he creeps
around the outside walls.
You can hear him collecting your dirt through the air brick, smell him
if the wind is up enough. How the cat can sleep through this
is anyone’s guess. He’s piling the dirt high so it rises over
the floor line over the damp proof course and will rise higher yet,
and you will drown in your own damp sweat and then he’ll have what he wants –
the smell of you – warm and ripe – as it lays between
you and your covers.
Filthy Filthy Woman
boiling her beets in the copper – scooping
them out with her piss pot – then leaves it like that –
and you don’t complain – she’d land
you one in the gob soon as look at you – me –
always scrubbing after her – her apron
crusted with beet juice and dribbles of lard
she’d not quite eaten – the smell of her –
you’d know she was coming before she arrived.
Anna Robinson is a poet and historian who works for the University of East London. Her collections The Finders of London (2010) and Into The Woods (2014) were published by Enitharmon and she has a new pamphlet from Stonewood Press, The Night Library (2015). The Finders was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Poetry Prize in 2011. Anna is working towards a PhD in Creative Writing, researching the history of the housing estate where she lives and these poems are from that project.