Peter Chapman Poetry

With Mother, In Florida

eyecups and splayed toothbrushes
against the yellow tiles
in memory
at her mother's house

old tub, cinnamon marble with its ring,
afternoons of mingling sun, memory again
at Auntie's house, the rose garden,
shelves of SS Pierce and wine, tins of Egyptian cigarettes
rolled flat
behind wormood cupboards, in the cellar

hung with watermarked photos
the hallway is tall and yellow green,
paper peeling up high, showing more paper

the umbrella stand bings when clipped,
the dark cool of the rooms, shades drawn,
rugs with comfort in their dyes,
patients leaving with prescriptions, waving
bringing chickens, cleaned squirrels for the bill

i could be ferns here, it would be easy,
undulent in the lima light,
finishing Joyce, ready for Stendahl
who Hemingway, nervy in the ring, said could take him,
maybe the only one

i'm decorous, redolent with years then


mother's pale robe catches
so i can hear her muttering
with something like a brush falling,
the little scratch of a slipper, the cough, the laugh
ghosts of Phillip Morris and dry gin
with me, her first pregnancy, amnio'd with the poems
she read to her belly
in the days after the war, with the flags
and the big convertibles, coconuts dropping on the beach

the too blue Gulf

somewhere in the old days,
in Florida