Handbag

Handbag

My mother's old leather handbag,
crowded with letters she carried
all through the war. The smell
of my mother's handbag: mints
and lipstick and Coty powder.
The look of those letters, softened
and worn at the edges, opened,
read, and refolded so often.
Letters from my father. Odour
of leather and powder, which ever
since then has meant womanliness,
and love, and anguish, and war.


from Fifteen to Infinity (Hutchinson, 1983), © Ruth Fainlight 1983, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Ruth Fainlight Reading from her Poems

1A Sibyl

2Blocked Sibyl

3Driving Northward

4Trees

5It Must

6Animal Tamer

7Passenger

8Handbag

9In Memoriam H.P.F.

10As Though She Were a Sister

11Death's Love-Bite

12The Knot

13On the Theme of Artifice

14Poppies

15Ovid among the Scythians

16That Presence

17A Mourner

18Homage

19Lineage

20Late Low Sun

21Thunder

22Facts About the Sibyl

23Elegant Sibyl

24Friends' Photos

25Young Men

26Whatever

27Autumn Crocus

28What

29Ordinary Sorrow

30Potatoes

31Feathers

32Four Pheasants

33La Traviata in 2001

34Sheba & Solomon: I - Their Words

35Sheba & Solomon: XI - Water

36Sheba & Solomon: XII - Solomon's Desire

37Moon Wheels

38Blankets

39Lovely Hands

40Crocuses

41Midland Contemporary

Books & cds by Ruth Fainlight