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Featured Poet

Patricia Foster, London, UK.

 Buried Love


 I remember how your hands

 squeaked and shined wet, delicate tableware.


 Mum, you let me help you then,

 showing me how not to break them.

 Never scolding when chipped by tiny, clumsy fingers.


 Now I watch, muted,

 as you continue to circle

 shining, wet cup rims

 with shaking fingers I can’t even steady or hold;

 as if that would bring me back.


 Seeing your eyes glazed with maternal grief,

 I’m unable to console you

 with words I’ll never say;


 adolescent expression

 which failed to escape

 with my final, sighing breath.


 © Patricia Foster 2002






 My lips seem to amuse Esther.

 She forces this shrill, tinny sound through her own


 which then bursts into a big, rough snort. Sounds


 a horse.

 She says my lips are chalky and dry. Big and rubber.

 She laps up laughs from the others like a drunkard

 needing a drink.

 Maybe my lips are big, as she says. It doesn’t make


 any easier for me

 to open them up and answer her back, though.


 She always chews gum.

 I always know when she’s going to say something


 to me.

 Her lips mash up and down,


 parting and closing like a bored camel. And she’s

 looking at me.

 Laughing to herself all the while. By now

 the rest of the class are flicking fingers, swaying

 and beating table tops

 to the rhythm of her horse sounds.

 She’s firing out the words between each crack and



 of the old, soured gum in her gob:

 ‘dry, rubber lips’.


 I was in Jamaica last summer. Granny swears by


 She doesn’t need any of them fancy-fancy creams or


 Just Vaseline.

 She looks so young

 and always has a ready-made smile on her lips.

 If my lips were ever dried or slightly cracked,

 She wouldn’t tell me. She’d just say

 ‘come darling!’, scoop up a bit of white jelly -

 smooth it over my lips with a protective touch.

 The heavy sun would just melt the Vaseline

 and keep them plump and moist. All day.

 Then as I’d run off, Granny would tell me

 to take time and talk good with my lips.


 Perhaps that’s why I can’t say anything to Esther





 © Patricia Foster 2002.




 Grandfather (working title) 11  


 A yearning, burns

 For as long as I can remember,


 To meet mummy’s father.


 Picturing his smile in mine,

 Where my full eyes come from.


 The bus will take an hour; then

 Ten minutes to climb

 The long gritty hill,

 Cooked in Jamaican heat.


 Sat tight in cramped container

 Its tyres pretend to take strain.


 Weighed down by shiny limbed

 School children, full-bodied women in

 Spangled blouses, elders in straw hats shielding

 squinting eyes.


 I smile as elbows and bottoms stick in

 Unsuspecting faces,

 Trying to find some balance.


 Granddad’s photo, minus grainy monotone,

 Pictured   in colour in minds forefront.


 I turn.

 Framed through cracked window

 I see my Granddad,

 Waiting to cross the street.


 I know that’s him…definitely is him.

 Same features as mummy,

 Same posture as me.


 No one can tell me different.

 It’s him alright -

 From the one photo I’ve seen:




 My cousin insists I didn’t see him.

 Couldn’t possibly know how he looks

 From one, single photo.


 Trust me.

 I grab her hand; we get off at the

 Next stop.


 We run as fast

 As Jamaican heat and humidity will allow

 Legs to pump

 And chests to heave.


 We get nearer to the old man

 In white shirt,

 Chest high grey slacks

 And trilby.






 The elder turns.

 His face matches mine.

 He looks on bemused. Then amused.


 My crumpled baby picture

 Drawn from his wallet -

 His smile, broad, as he

 Enfolds my teenage frame.


 Holding, squeezing, dispelling

 Years of family tears;



 My visit…

 Also yearned.



 © Patricia Foster 2001.



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