pockets & bonnets

pink aquilegia flower

Among the papers I was sorting last week, there were poems and fragments of poetry I had lost sight of. There were also titles.

Sometimes, like Wendy Cope and her Making Cocoa for Kinglsey Amis, you know that a phrase deserves to be recorded. You don’t know if it will be a line in a poem or a title, but it strikes a chord of some sort. I walked around with the phrase “the inevitability of dragons” in my head for years before I found the poem it belonged in and I still hope to use it as the title for a collection one day.

One of the phrases I (re-)found last week was “On the topology of pockets.” I’m sure it’s the title of a poem, but that poem remains unwritten. When I tried, it morphed into something else entirely.

I think it became Secondary Education which was published back in 2007 on the Science Creative Quarterly. (Re-reading it there, there are a dozen things I’d tweak, even if I could be persuaded to leave the basic premise alone.)

The aquilegia seemed an appropriate photo to illustrate this post as the long spurs of the flower remind me – for no logical reason – of a Klein Flask. Perhaps I should make a new attempt under the guise of “On the morphology of granny’s bonnets.”

Even if I can’t come up with a poem about topology, I do have a poem with a pocket in it. And with all the things in that pocket, too, including a hanky edging made by the lacemaker. It’s the opening poem of Around the Corner from Hope Street:

What Have I Got in my Pocket?

Paper and pen for making notes
of people, thoughts and random quotes
– things seen and heard around the town;
a conker, smooth, mahogany brown,
picked up while walking in the park,
now lying snugly in the dark
beside a card with a friend’s address on
and scribbled notes for my next lesson;
Swiss army knife; a mobile phone –
for breakdowns when I’m on my own;
a hanky edged with handmade lace;
no glasses, just an empty case;
a wooden key fob and bunch of keys;
a hole, through which slip memories.


Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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