Foster, London, UK.
remember how your hands
and shined wet, delicate tableware.
you let me help you then,
me how not to break them.
scolding when chipped by tiny, clumsy fingers.
I watch, muted,
you continue to circle
wet cup rims
shaking fingers I can’t even steady or hold;
if that would bring me back.
your eyes glazed with maternal grief,
unable to console you
words I’ll never say;
failed to escape
my final, sighing breath.
Patricia Foster 2002
lips seem to amuse Esther.
forces this shrill, tinny sound through her own
then bursts into a big, rough snort. Sounds
says my lips are chalky and dry. Big and rubber.
laps up laughs from the others like a drunkard
my lips are big, as she says. It doesn’t make
easier for me
open them up and answer her back, though.
always chews gum.
always know when she’s going to say something
lips mash up and down,
and closing like a bored camel. And she’s
to herself all the while. By now
rest of the class are flicking fingers, swaying
beating table tops
the rhythm of her horse sounds.
firing out the words between each crack and
the old, soured gum in her gob:
was in Jamaica last summer. Granny swears by
doesn’t need any of them fancy-fancy creams or
looks so young
always has a ready-made smile on her lips.
my lips were ever dried or slightly cracked,
wouldn’t tell me. She’d just say
darling!’, scoop up a bit of white jelly -
it over my lips with a protective touch.
heavy sun would just melt the Vaseline
keep them plump and moist. All day.
as I’d run off, Granny would tell me
take time and talk good with my lips.
that’s why I can’t say anything to Esther
Patricia Foster 2002.
(working title) 11
as long as I can remember,
meet mummy’s father.
his smile in mine,
my full eyes come from.
bus will take an hour; then
minutes to climb
long gritty hill,
in Jamaican heat.
tight in cramped container
tyres pretend to take strain.
down by shiny limbed
children, full-bodied women in
blouses, elders in straw hats shielding
smile as elbows and bottoms stick in
to find some balance.
photo, minus grainy monotone,
Pictured in colour in
through cracked window
see my Granddad,
to cross the street.
know that’s him…definitely is him.
features as mummy,
posture as me.
one can tell me different.
him alright -
the one photo I’ve seen:
cousin insists I didn’t see him.
possibly know how he looks
one, single photo.
grab her hand; we get off at the
run as fast
Jamaican heat and humidity will allow
chests to heave.
get nearer to the old man
high grey slacks
face matches mine.
looks on bemused. Then amused.
crumpled baby picture
from his wallet -
smile, broad, as he
my teenage frame.
of family tears;
Patricia Foster 2001.