Inspired by John Law, “Back from Shopping” and Kerfe Roig, “Badger”
Sturdy women coated and scarved,
against the cold, damp English day. Tight-clad legs step
clop clop on water-pooled streets. The little one’s hand grasped—
everywhere unseen dangers lurk.
There will be no jumping now. Come along, her mother says,
and goes on talking about Bess’s too-soon baby, Tom’s gout,
and Will who lost his job—again.
Beneath the surface of their words, stories swim,
fish waiting to be caught,
the meanings elusive, not quite hooked.
The woolen hats and packages move with the women, yellow, red, and green
contrasts with the grey all around.
In the fine drizzle of the fretting sea,
the shops are nearly invisible,
like the badger in their garden, a fog-creature of the night.
The girl wonders if he lives beneath
the surface of the puddles. She jumps, despite her mother’s hand,
and laughs. Then a laugh bursts from her mother’s surprised O mouth.
They continue walking. It’s almost time for tea.
She will save some scraps for the badger. See if he surfaces, like love.
For Paul Brookes’s Ekphrastic Challenge. You can see all the art and read all the poems here.