Cunniffe R – Rachel Cunniffe

  Inner City Undergraduate Romance 

Fresh faced, over eager,
Away from  home they met at 18.
 
( EVERY TRAIN BEGINS SOMEWHERE
AND KNOWS WHERE THEY ARE GOING) 
 
The meetings and greetings 
On platforms were all part of the fun.
Him gazing  up at ARRIVALS
Her creeping up behind him.
It didn’t matter they’d travelled 
From opposite directions. 
They were in  love at Manchester Piccadilly.
 
They celebrated  their second anniversary
On Birmingham New Street -
Agreed it made a change 
From the  too reliable
Cup of morning tea in bed.
She had secret  longings for a weekend away
And  alone. 
 
( LIKE JUNCTIONS WHERE PARALLELS PLAIT
THEY GOT CONFUSED)
 
Seeking  reassurance he said
Were the same now,
We can  finish each other's sentences.
Being contrary she answered
Education doesn’t make me middle class. 
He knew  what was coming
Stop changing my routes.
 
(INEVITABLY  THEIR TRACKS SPLIT
NEVER REACH THE POINT WHERE PARALLELS MEET.)
 
By twenty two she was  halfway to Bristol Parkway
He headed east  and  got stuck some place trans-pennine.
 
 
   
Warm Milk On Hot Days
 
Today I have to stay indoors
watching T.V. with a woman who thinks
every player at Wimbledon
Is John McEnroe
I stomach a warm milky drink
On a hot afternoon when I want to sunbathe.
 
You loved this when you were little.
 
I can’t take my eyes off her:
The forearm that shakes
As she lifts the empty pan.
 
You thought you were so grown up
I could not take my eyes off you
When you were near the stove.
We never burned a pan between us.
 
She lights the gas, forgets the milk.
 
You’d count the bubbles as they rose
 
She searches for biscuits
Milk hisses as I pour
Into the hot pan we’ve still never burned.
 
Showing off that you could count.
 
This woman made me feel
Like a goddess when I was seven.
I watch the bubbles rise in the pan.
 
You used to think it was magic.


Lower Manhattan Hospital
 
There was the promise of painkillers
I was in New York and pregnant
Sonya was in labour, Red faced.
Being monitored.
So was Sonya who I have not seen for years
And a stranger.
 
There was the promise of all sorts of painkillers
Red faced, being monitored timing her contractions, comforting her..
 
I am with Alex and Kim -
my friends who brought me to New York
They are looking after someone else.
I shrug,
 
A nurse tells me
I haven't even started yet, 
"Nurse, I think I have had a twinge really"
I insist. "Just one.”
 
I look down.
Underneath my oversized t shirt
Whatever bump is there
Is a ghost.
 
 

Rachel Cunniffe is based in the North East of  England and has  written a  wide range of  poetry  since being a teenager, has a MA in Writing Studies gained in 1995 from Edgehill University College. Real jobs stifled her creativity for 16 years  and she has  recently  been able to partially retire and spend more time writing again. She has been a member  of several creative  writing groups  one of which  has  been in existence since 1991. She read regularly at the now sadly no more Callender Poetry Festival in September during that time for about 9 years.She lives with a large black dog and two cats.

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