Poem — Jennifer Compton

Imagining Emily

She is setting a pan of milk on the larder shelf
then, wiping her fingers on her coarse apron,
making the sign – tick a lock – the key in the door.
My work is done so my work can begin.

Her apron swings from the nail on the wall,
the whisk tocks to and fro on the window sill.
Or I could be wrong. I was never there.
Where would the whisk animate itself?

On the draining board? Beside the crock?
I have an empty kitchen. She climbs the stairs.
I can see the door she cracked open to hear
the words spoken at her father’s funeral.

She is a freeze frame of white angles ascending
to where the sleigh bed gallops her away at night
with words like the plumes on horses’ heads.
And, waiting for her, her imaginary friends.

And here, such silliness, I imagine, amongst others,
the louche ex-drummer from The Three Lost Chords,
his face a road map that has been folded up too often.
Here’s Em! – he shouts. Let’s jam. Let’s rock and roll.

Some of her familiars have lived in books, and some
are hardly human, Chanticleer imprints his tracks.
I summon a French nun with a vinegar tongue; some,
like me, are a dim presentiment of what will come.

Jennifer Compton

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