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
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.
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.