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Beanpulling               Cooking for Guests

         Alice is Snowbound           Cain




I dunno. Mum's dead. A week back. How

we'd fight. Ruth and I 'ud sneer and snigger. (Ruth's my mate.)

I've gotta meet Ruth by this beanfield and she's late, I've gotta

look Ruth in the eye, Mum's death makes a clanger of us sharing anger.


Ruth's arrived. Death's not my fault! Sod that! —

"Sorry." So? What's she mean, "It's nice

to see you beanpulling again, we'll make good cash."?

I'm not ill, recovering or anything. Ruth's stupid. I'm

savaging the billow of green hearts, beanleaves and wet

popping of square stems, uprooted. I'm suffering

from loneliness, despite Ruth's nearness, our four blacknailed gorilla hands

tearing off ripcord pods, grimy from their green furred blood.

Ruth gasps, I pant. Sun punishes our white skin pink,

angry we're not speaking. NOW what aren't I facing? I hated

Mum, I've said. Ruth's downcast. So what if she feels snubbed!


After a flush of rush, I sweat, forget. "Hey Ruth this guts

of sack's half knobbled full, pod pricks. Ow's yours?"

Ruth replies, "You hypocrite. What's funny? Shitty death!

You haven't cried at all." I V-sign her and turn

behind. Stalks bent wires, black silage, black electrocuted

beanleaves dying in tobacco rolls, soil hot as ashes, ovens.

I caused this devastation. Chemical colours in smoking

dust turn out to be Mum's snapshot, which I've dropped

her glistening dead grinmy dirty tears fall, smarting.

Bereavement destroys me. Ruth calls. Do I


hide red-rubbed streaming eyes? There's no hide: beanfield

smelling dead and agonisingly sunlit. Biscuit brown flesh, soft-

ness of Ruth's arm cuddles my shoulders. Chokings.

"I nearly lost you Ruth, today." "D'ye love your Mother?"

"Yes. Is she furious, wherever she is, with me?"

"She's nothing. Like the broad beans. At peace."

"What's left then?" "You and I am."


Anne Rees

first published in The Rialto, 1999




Cooking for Guests


Alice and Bill make Indian puffed bread, fry puris:


is vulnerable as the pastry flaps Bill slips

into the lit gold heat of killing oil.


Will she be alright by eight?


You, your dress, look nice." Current

crisps her nerves with pain, "I don't".


Their glass dark slab of kitchen window

blooms plum moisture and its purple, beautiful

tears trace blackness to the sill.

Bill is hospitable,


but sighs. His downcast eyes affright,

and Alice,

wound up with illness like a clock,

placates, strikes attitudes that imitate how humans look.


Anne Rees

first published in Staple, 1997





Alice is Snowbound


"I am a construct within a construct":

The ill snow and the Newscaster's glare

Make this disastrous weather:


Thick pelts on cars, the skidding floury roads

Start away from feet like glass, so Alice

Dances like mercury droplets, scatters.


Alice's disrupted, shaking brains

Construct the moon-white glow as horror, gag at it,

More ragged gouts of crystals drop there is no comfort,


But throats of branches stream their water stains

Cut-throated, Alice's own stream of blood

Darkens and freezes in illness.


O she is furious!

The snow's as sickened as herself

Its chill says Death, Disasters, Alice!


Snowballed with snow silences

Alice is frost, a feather, blown on her own lips

Can she breathe herself real warmth, take courage?

Alice, annexe this weather, snow's your heritage!


Anne Rees

first published in Orbis, 1998







I won’t be trusting like these lime trees, gaping for inspection

one frightened glance perceives their faults, their breakages and rot,

the mosses feeding on those bristling, buttressed roots:

the leaves are orange veined and fungus spotted and their panoply

decks ribbed dark trunks like the legs of elephants.


Eldritch lime scaffolding stoops black spars and spreads them wide

like fingers tented with layers of yellow light.

Leaf by heart-shaped, pointed and toothed leaf descends

loosely like alopecia in sunny circles:

the grass sparkles with greens and browns and yellows.


My horror sticks in, like those sticking-in black spars:

a correspondence. Can he take the weight of my humanity and blemishes?

My disease races, blackening, up every nerve and blooms upon my face

he’s shocked! He scrutinises me, demands: “What is it?”

Tears scald my cheeks, I cannot help myself. The murder’s out.


Anne Rees

first published in Obsessed with Pipework, 2005


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