The Grandmother's Tale

What I once loved were lies. They had such nice eyes!
In the ice of his smiles, I missed the truth by miles
But cornered my unicorn, marred and un-mythically horned,
And his word was my sword.

This is a route that’s routinely unsuitable: bull-
At-a-gate while the latte is hot, and the candle-light flatters
The cad in your abracadabra, the hole in the whole simulacrum
Of plenty in Lent.

You offer your coffers of treasure, and he goes ‘Sure…’
So you buy him the Kohinoor. And it’s wild for a while,
Until he ships out to his isle, and its single file
From hypnotic to not.

But your heart says it’s owed. This is so. From the day I was widowed,
Wed to his ghost, I soon hosted my own Casanova.
He leans from the empty chair, and his breath lifts my hair:
‘There, love, it’s not over.’

Where are the old and their dead but enfolded in ars amatoria?
Faces and arms we embrace in the car-parks of crematoria
Aren’t mere remembrance: embraces evolve in us ‘til
The final nil-nil.

from Poems 1968-2004 (Bloodaxe, 2004), © Carol Rumens 2004, used by permission of the author

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1Soho Square, April

2Baby, Baby, Baby

3Over the Bridge

4Rules for Beginners

5The Hebrew Class

6Star Whisper

7Women, Veiled



10The Grandmother’s Tale

11White Night

12London Stone

13The Death of King Taharqa

14Walking on Hail-Stones

15From a Conversation During Divorce

16The Things he Liked

17Doubled Solstice

18Sessanta’s View

19Rigor Mortis

20The Lightest Dancer

22A Singer too Soon

23Prayer for Belfast

24Canto 27 (Dante, Purgatorio)

25Beware this Boy

26The Deluge

27The Reddish Wheelbarrow

28Hamlet (Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago)

29A Christmas Tangerine

21Song of the Gsohs