Clair Chilvers was a cancer scientist, and latterly worked for the UK National Health Service. She divides her time between writing and volunteering for the charity Mental Health Research UK that she co-founded. She lives in Gloucestershire, UK.
She has had poems published in online and print magazines including Agenda, Allegro, Amaryllis, Artemis, Atrium, the Ekphrastic Review, Impspired, Ink Sweat and Tears, Live Encounters. Poetry Atlas, Reach Poetry, Sarasvati and Snakeskin. She won second prize in the Poetry Kit Ekphrastic Competition 2020 and her poems have been longlisted or commended in the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Prize 2020, and Poetry Kit Competition 2020. Her first collection Out of the Darkness (Frosted Fire) was published in 2021 and her second Island (Impspired Press) in 2022. www.clairchilverspoetry.co.uk twitter @cedc13 https://www.facebook.com/clair.chilvers
Lady Chatterley by Torchlight
Lady Chatterley by torchlight in the dormitory of the school for young ladies the bicyclist in a black army helmet turns the wrong way into a one-way street toboggan through the woods by moonlight to George Harrison blaring a masked audience watches The Return of Ulysses the boat sinks beneath her in the estuary on a Spring tide he sits eyes lowered on the pavement outside the supermarket abandoned hacienda in the lazy afternoon the lash of the horsewhip across her thighs child screams as his mother hands him to a soldier roar of the Victoria Falls crocodiles lie in wait on the Zambezi they take off their striped pyjamas to enter the gas chamber skinny dipping in the lake at midnight high on pot rope bridge across the canyon sways in the deluge of tropical rain mirrors don’t tell lies
Trick or Treat
In the twilight the children throng down the street past the clapboard houses with their neat lawns the doors ajar but unlit. Where are the neighbours ready to welcome them with treats? Where are the parents following at a distance ready to pick up the smallest ones stop them straying into the road? Tonight is different they are drawn inexorably towards the end of the road where it peters out into scrubland where the street lights cannot penetrate the mist a mist that rises from the river in the cold still air.
In his younger days we walked on the downs with the dog discussed life and buying shares Africa of course where his cousin lived He talked about Namibia how he wanted to go back how he had left it too late So I went instead of him because I missed him wanted to please him although it was too late I didn’t go in his way I camped and watched the sun set a gin and tonic in my hand a houseboy with hot water for my shower I tracked desert elephants on foot rode the dunes in a buggy saw the brightness of the milky way zebra at the water hole I flew over the Skeleton Coast in a four-seater plane saw the wrecks, imagined, just imagined drank cocktails in Swakopmund in a shady bar that overlooked the sea thought of all the questions I should have asked him.
I did not say goodbye
When I was a baby grandmother gave me a silver bell while I was teething. Mother kept it, mis-shapen as it was by my baby teeth. It sits on my dressing table lovingly polished. Grandmother came to die with us when the cancer got too bad. When she struggled to breathe I used to wash and set her hair the least I could for someone who had taught me how to shop sent me books wrapped in brown paper (she had no idea what they were about) slept through Ben Hur at the cinema with me on a Sunday afternoon. Then she went to hospital. I did not visit her that day to say goodbye.