Clair Chilvers

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 Acumen, 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

http://www.clairchilverspoetry.co.uk  https://www.facebook.com/clair.chilvers   twitter@cedc13

A Night at the Opera

the glass opera house
set in parkland with a cricket pitch
I wear my new long coat 
peacocks embroidered across the back
aware of the glances	
as I wander through the walled garden 
with my glass of champagne

between the acts we picnic – 
poached salmon with tiny new potatoes 
strawberries and the lightest meringues –
before the second half and its final climax

we are elated as we drive home
through the fine summer night
at first we share the experience
then drift off into our own thoughts
until suddenly a queue of cars	       

mild irritation	then concern 
at the siren of an ambulance 
we inch forward toward the scene
I avert my eyes	     but not soon enough

The Chatelaine

In the foreground three cows 
watched by ladies in long frocks and bonnets
lace fichus at their throats.
The Hall was grander then 
the church behind it just the same.
The first time, she was on the doorstep
to turn us away 
with a tale of how the cook 
had knifed the sous-chef.
But we stayed. She cooked us dinner
with a girl from the village to help.

The grand staircase with her portrait 
in her coming-out dress
with the Hall in the background
upstairs, rooms with great double beds –
our playground.
In summer we rode bicycles
to the cheesemaker’s across the fields.
In winter, by the fire, we drank champagne 
she, in her embroidered Chinese jacket,
would tell us what we shouldn’t have for dinner.
She died one sunny afternoon, hit by a lorry 
as she stepped from a tapas bar in Spain.

Wedding Photograph

I see the church in the Strand
on a December day
under a grey sky,
a small crowd of Christmas shoppers 
gathered out of sheer curiosity.

The bride centre stage
assured for her teenage years
with her older just-husband 
who turns out not to be at all
what she expects.
Her mother in black with a mink stole
smiles: the girl safely off her hands
well-married.

The other mother looks away
to lose her son so suddenly
is not what she expected.
She wants to sit with him at dinner every night
her favourite, holding her hand
Why has he left me, she wonders, so suddenly?

The bride’s father a handsome man
better-looking than the bridegroom
looks round for the car that should be there
while the other father smiles benignly.
He wants everyone to be happy.

Soon they will move on
to champagne and canapes
at a London club
before the bride and groom leave
for a very dull honeymoon in Devon.

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