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Looking for Clues by Deirdre Parkes

Looking for Clues

Powder-tangled smell of her handbag,
clothes kept for best in a wardrobe
that spills its plunder over the bed.
Morning starts always with the rise of Granny
talking about where to find the hidden eggs.
A lifetime of clues that fuel her evening’s crossword.

We laugh and squabble and never hear a cross word
but search again for treasures in the handbag.
While we, the proof of all her roosting eggs,
See mysterious garments nightly adorn the wardrobe
in a ritual that stuns to silence – modest Granny
removes one outside layer before bed.

Her body leaves a morning-hollowed bed,
newsprint face that lay upon the crossword.
We rise through dreams to see the dawn of Granny;
perched on her nose the glasses from her handbag,
as she searches among the treasures of the wardrobe,
then starts the hiss of gas for boiling eggs.

Two verses of a song would time the eggs,
while we crept out from nests of unmade bed.
Moving past the shelf inside the wardrobe,
(now lined with yellowing sheets of unsolved crossword)
that once had held a pink and plastic handbag,
given to my sister once, from Granny.

Summer days were always spent with Granny,
Hours of gathering hay and finding eggs
my aunt scrabbling for cigarettes in her handbag;
calling for baths and sending us all to bed.
Laughing mostly, but sometimes with a cross word,
she takes her weekly inventory of the wardrobe.

My coaxing aunt says, time to tidy that wardrobe.
But this has all been heard before by Granny.
She writes the first few answers in her crossword
before handing over a box of new-lain eggs.
It’s ready, my aunt says, to tip and fall onto the bed,
the rustle as money is tucked away in Granny’s handbag.

At night the handbag sits by the bed, fleshed-out
by money from the eggs, while Granny’s outside layer
lives in the wardrobe, and the crossword lies across her legs.

by Deirdre Parkes

Guest Editor’s Note: The sestina form gives perfect shape to this evocative poem, expressing both the reassuring changelessness of simple routines and the inexorable changes that come with the passage of time.

Please welcome Guest Editor Catherine Rogers from April 3-7, 2017.


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