Friday, 27 May 2016


She swirls the thick rich dregs
then deftly upends our cups
as if she’s about to ask which hides
the wooden ball, token of some prize.

Against the wall’s nail-thick varnish,
the mother-in-law who taught her
stands by her uniformed husband
in a fading hand-tinted photo.

Did she foresee, back then,
how evenings now she’d lean in
at a laptop screen, swapping gossip
via Skype with a son in Detroit?

Or that, in next to no time,
this room, this open window
will be boarded up, the lease
relinquished, the whole farm gone?

For the moment, we’re in her thrall.
Fate intervenes (or doesn’t)
and she’s turning up each cup,
each future, one by one.

We will travel, we’ll spend etc, etc,
until there it is, that look
and, half-smiling, she says:
‘This is his release.’

Somehow, in the shape of cast dregs,
his future shapes up –
between the walls of this elsewhere
we’re happy with her predictions.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

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