Suspension of Disbelief
They met at college. She saw him first. I can believe this.
He says, playing with his old sports watch, he can’t really remember
the first time he saw her. But he can remember
‘just always seeing’, across the canteen,
a young woman whom he recognized later in flashes
as my mother - slimmer, her black-black
hair packed into a short plait. The thing with afro hair is,
it grows upwards. My father had never seen this. He fell in love.
He even admitted this occasionally
in cards. Well, the fact remains, he married
a woman with what he said looked like,
‘A question mark on her head.’
This, I can believe.
Only my father would overlook an omen like that.
And only my mother would sprinkle holy water at the mention of omens.
Men and Dogs
Mum says men and dogs have colour blindness in common.
When she says this her pencilled eyebrows rise,
and set under the cleft lip of her headscarf.
Mum says she stood under that disco ball, dress flashing
red and blue, and knew
she’d made a mistake. Mum says things
would have been different had she known
before their reception that Dad
danced like a dog pissing on a flower bed.
Sunny Side Up
Dad, you looked like a fried egg on your wedding day,
in your crisp shirt and yellow tie.
A yellow tie to your own wedding?
A yellow tie full stop.
I stole the photo from Mum’s shell box,
the one that was once a treasure box.
Was treasure itself once
— the only thing grabbed from Nigeria.
The only thing she found herself
still clutching at Dover.
It holds our passports, insurance docs,
spare car keys now. The jewellery
was either lost or sold. I’m not sure
if Mum has kept this photo of you, dancing your signature
(arms out, leg cocked) at your reception because
she steals glances at you, still. Or because she sees you
as another yellowing deed.
Rachel Long was shortlisted for Young Poet Laureate for London 2014 and is the current Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship Scheme awardee for poetry. She has been published in various anthologies and magazines, including The Emma Press and Magma.