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last update: 15 Feb19

 

 

You Are                      The Smallest Monkey in the World

 

First to Blink                      Fossils

 

You Are

the one I didn’t quite meet –
my sandal broke and I missed the bus
you caught, the seat beside you overfilled
instead by someone’s granny, with more
bags and packages than she could carry.
 
Then the class at the City Lit –
you joined the term after I pulled out,
chose to learn Greek instead, ahead
of the trip to Corfu, same year that you
opted for Italy, or was it Crete?
 
And so neither of us made it to Venice,
to the room with blue shutters overlooking
the canal, a candle-dim trattoria where we shared
carbonara and dreamed up the cottage –
the cottage we never discovered
 
down a campion lane from a bird-white
village and a gull-stirred sea. So you
never taught me how to coax
a woodburner to flame. I didn’t show you
how to cook mackerel with gooseberrries
 
we didn’t sprawl on the saggy sofa
dissecting Plato or Bartok
with the help of Leonard Cohen
or tumble back up the tipsy path
from a smoked and pickled pub.
 
But one day, I’ll be sitting in a seafront cafe
with white walls and colourist paintings,
watching waves repeating their story –
you’ll bend over, ask if there’s space
at my table, and I’ll know. I’ll know.
 

Jennie Osborne

published in Acumen, Sept 18


 
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The Smallest Monkey in the World

clings on by its tail to the last tree
in the Brazilian rainforest,
looks me in the eye, full of questions,
knows me as family, if from a distant branch.
 
A miniature hand, like that
of an infant’s infant grasps my finger
although this new aquaintance
could sit in my child-sized palm.
 
We have them in our fist, these small
relations, each family, each tribe,
their home, their neighbourhood, the extent
of their known world all in our grasp
 
and we are squeezing as we chop away
at the trunk of the family tree.
 

Jennie Osborne

published in The Broadsheet, Sept 2017


 
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First to Blink

And on the rain-slick road in front of me
white-staring      staring me down
daring me down     not moving
luminous in the moment   in the car headlight
forty-mile-an-hour moment
flower-face     feather-face
saucer-starer     Blodeuwedd
taking me in
taking my lethal metal jacket in
and not moving      facing me down
claw gripping carcase
pinning me down
 
          till I blink   brake   swerve
          into the risk of oncoming
 
lifts upward like a leaf
letting go of gravity
curd of mist
of white ash
dissolving to night      to drizzle
blurring to peripheral
 
talons ungrasped
letting me run
leaving me smeared
furred and bloody
on the road
 

Jennie Osborne

in collection Colouring Outside the Lines, Oversteps Books, 2015,
ISBN 978-1-9068565-8-8


 
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Fossils

A morning scumbled in grey
         layer
            slab
              pavement
 
                 all the ancient creatures
tombed                                                       underfoot
 
                 in flakes
falling out of the marvellous
         layer-cake cliff
sepia                             honey  ash
 
mist made solid
                        at the point of crumble
 
and we
        walking through tilt
 
sky at brim
                        of dissolving
                                              of indecision
         mumbling us
clammy finger stroking us
 
water                            keeping its distance
                     biding
 
         although we know about tides
 
its slugtrail slime
                                       unfooting us
on innocent surfaces
 
         no distance                      nothing
round the headland except
 
                                                     nuclear no-go zone
we choose
                       not to imagine
 
looking for colours at our feet
 
                       rock flaking under
no lines intact
         landscape
                       reinventing
practising
                                                        (are we?)
 
        for what comes next
 

Jennie Osborne

Runner-up, Coffee House Poetry Competition, 2016


 
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