Two Poems

Poetry
Jenny Hockey


Photo Credit: GIS@Sam/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Eltisley Avenue

Thursday 4th
and school kids thunder by
as winter daylight creeps about our purple room
in a ground floor apartment with an unwanted piano,
where I sit out my hours working green nylon yarn
into doll-size jackets and mitts, my swollen body
squeezed into a vinyl armchair.

All day and the midwife doesn’t show.

Monday 23rd
Two weeks past my date
they gather me into their arms—a stretcher’s too long
for our door, set aslant in the small shared hall.

Tuesday 24th
Wearing a dressing gown abandoned
by an old boyfriend, I step down out of the ambulance—
a baby asleep in my arms.

Two doors up the road, a neighbor wipes her eyes.

 

He was a Good Person

You knew that whatever you asked him for—
a tea bag, a hand with pushing your desk
nearer the window, the name of someone in Central Admin
who could organize a payment,
his face would brighten
at the chance to help,

a good person who’d ease back his chair
from his desk, ready for a chat
and even a cuppa shared—

after he’d walked down the corridor
—a word with a colleague along the way,
to fill his kettle in the kitchen,

a good person with a long institutional memory
and an amusing story or two to tell
about the woman in Central Admin
who never paid out on a Tuesday,
only on Fridays every other week,

a good person who, even before you asked for help,
would enquire about your husband
and whether his stress fracture had healed
and how your recent conference trip to Ukraine
had gone

and something would prompt him to tell you—
by the way, about the ducklings,
six or was it eight of them, newly hatched on the pond,
not the pond by the Vice Chancellor’s office,
the pond they recently dredged,
just behind Central Admin—

and what kind of tea bag exactly would you like?
PG Tips, decaf, ginger and lemon?
There might be a lapsang souchong somewhere,
if you could just give him a minute—

pencil

Jenny Hockey lives in Sheffield, UK. She belongs to Hexameter, The Poetry Room and Living Line—with poems in magazines such as The North, Magma, Toasted Cheese, The Frogmore Papers and Orbis. She retired from Sheffield University as Emeritus Professor of Sociology to write and read more poetry and in 2013 received a New Poets Award from New Writing North. Oversteps Books published her debut collection Going to Bed with the Moon in 2019. Twitter: @JHockey20 Email: j.hockey[at]sheffield.ac.uk

Two Poems

Beaver’s Pick
Jenny Hockey


Photo Credit: Donnie Ray Jones/Flickr (CC-by)

Weaned

Submerged in our north-facing bath
I remembered you’d had no evening feed.

Tummy to sheet in your cot,
by then you were soundly asleep

and so they were over for good
my long damp hours in big white bras,

so soon in our years of making a start.

 

Lost for Words

Miss Stanage is usually mute, lies on her bed
being ninety—a swaddle of plaid blanket,
a long, thin shape. It haunts me

now I’ve seen them wheeling Elsie
to the morgue, careful to block
the view of the armchair-bound,

nags me like the question of how well
you and I are not getting on
and whether I should leave,

of whether I can complete
my research on old age
that no one has funded

and what to do about my shoes
that make me sound like Matron
and frighten staff on a sly puff break.

Miss Stanage rarely speaks—
I go round scouring the sinks,
suddenly mute when she asks me:

‘So what are your special interests in life?’

pencil

Jenny Hockey lives in Sheffield, UK. She belongs to Tuesday Poets, Hexameter, The Poetry Room and Living Line – with poems in magazines such as The North, Magma, The Frogmore Papers and Orbis. She retired from Sheffield University as Emeritus Professor of Sociology to write and read more poetry and in 2013 received a New Poets Award from New Writing North. Oversteps Books published her debut collection Going to Bed with the Moon in 2019. Twitter: @JHockey20 Email: j.hockey[at]sheffield.ac.uk

Three Poems

Beaver’s Pick
Jenny Hockey


Photo Credit: stupidmommy/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Waking Up in Someone Else’s House

7.15, not too bad
and bright North Sea light
edging through the shutters.

The floor will be cold, I know—
not the floor but a granite hearth
under my side of the bed.

Nose into socks and tread right round
to the door. All the lights still on. Heating
not yet. But sun tumbles down the stairs

and a city discovers the shape of today.

Into the kitchen, a crunch of crumbs
and ease the curtains back, set Remy
scrabbling in his cage.

An odour of something
under the floorboards, here and there—
a kindred rodent at peace

Find a clean cup.

 

Unreliable Witness

I know that I cried—
I was your child,
but whether the nurse
took hold of my hand
or I took hold of hers
I forget.

I know she called me at 3 am

when the four-lane road
to the Humber Bridge
was mine.

Did she say you were poorly?
I know she lied, your pillowed face
already wax,

your forehead
skimmed by my lips
in the end.

 

Cambridge, June 1969

Elder thickened daily in the yard,
putting pressure on the windows.
It needed hacking back.

I was elbow deep, awash
in tiny bibs and socks,
cold feet on the quarry tiles.

Elder thickened nightly in the yard
muffling the strains of May Ball bands
a thousand miles away.

I was swagging nappies
on my shoulder, losing pegs
among the weeds.

pencilJenny Hockey‘s poems range from the sad to the surreal to the celebratory. A retired anthropologist, she takes an oblique view of the ups and downs of everyday lives. In 2013 she received a New Poets Award from New Writing North, Newcastle, UK and, after magazine and anthology publications from 1985 onwards, Oversteps Books published her debut collection, Going to Bed with the Moon, in 2019. Twitter: @JHockey20 Email: j.hockey[at]sheffield.ac.uk

Souvenir

Poetry
Jenny Hockey


Photo Credit: solarnu/Flickr (CC-by-nd)

I found a Chinese baby’s shoe
with a bell to warn off mice

that’s smaller by far
than any shoe I’ve worn

and holds only the ghost
of my fat-toed child’s first pair,

one lost on a roadside verge,
one kept.

pencilJenny Hockey‘s poems range from the sad to the surreal to the celebratory. A retired anthropologist, she takes an oblique view of the ups and downs of everyday lives. In 2013 she received a New Poets Award from New Writing North, Newcastle, UK and, after magazine and anthology publications from 1985 onwards, Oversteps Books published her debut collection, Going to Bed with the Moon in 2019. Twitter: @JHockey20 Email: j.hockey[at]sheffield.ac.uk