Countdown and Perfect Shot | Poems by Siobhan Horner


countdown

this morning I held a six-week old baby who dribbled on my green sweatshirt and turned its wobbly head to stare at a white light

last night I spent forty-six minutes choosing a new drama to watch on tv and then lost the remote when the dog got sick on the rug

the day before yesterday someone pushed a card through the door; it said thanks for the dinner and sent love to all three of us

last week I took a flask of milky tea to the allotment and found two rusted nails when I turned over the black soil

a month ago, one, three, five and nine were the winning lottery numbers for Deborah Brown who used to talk to my mum in the post office before she died

in twenty eighteen there was a full moon so bright over the fields that we walked home after the pub without using a torch

on the third of April once, the cat chased a field mouse into our bedroom and trapped it between the wall and a pile of Penguin books

when I gave birth on a December night, he said my screams reached eighty-two decibels, which is louder than the sound of his power mower in summer

the first time I had my eyebrows plucked was for my wedding day on the third of august and they were still smarting when I promised to-have-and-to-hold

the clock said five fifty-seven in the morning, too many years ago, when my father died, and only eight-twenty when I discovered he had burned all his notebooks

in the nineties, one day, they arrived on the ten-forty train to see my new flat and mum remarked that seven percent of people in Brent speak Gujarati

twenty-one years ago, I wrote a poem to a stranger on a plane, then tore it up and ate it, because I saw him kiss another man

when I was a teenager my favourite number was eight because I liked the way it felt when I drew it, and it never ended

on my fifth birthday I got a red jumper with blue cuffs and I wore it every day until mum put in the bin when I went to stay at Colette’s house

last century, on July the third, as I abandoned my amniotic existence to gulp this sweet air, two people somewhere in the world breathed their last

when I was born they said I had all the time in the world

perfect shot

they say we’re the perfect couple, yin and yang, blue eyes to my brown, smile to my frown, three kids and a dog, what a gang!

they see us hold hands in the park, bike and pram, two sugars in tea, kick balls, chase bees, a pitch-perfect picture, goddam.

they hear us in daylight, polite, thanks and please, say bye to the kids, kiss on eyelids, a brush of the lips, then the keys.

they don’t know we fight when it’s dark, snap and harp, make war with our looks, retreat to books, lie separate, too tired to carp.

they don’t know I dream my own dreams, taste and touch the brightness of one, like shot from gun; but always, to safety I clutch.

they say we’re the perfect couple