After Harold Gilman Tea in a Bedsitter 1916
The room is an underwater grotto
where we two women
tout a sham harmony.
Our glances glissando
past a chair, spare
for a hero gone.
Nessa delves. Scavenger fish,
she nuzzles my loss. Sea anemone,
fingering for crumbs.
My turned-away back
blossom to a gull’s scissor-stabs,
guzzling dead snapper.
Kettle hiss, memory of waves
splashing, leaping at bare legs
as the man we both desired
twirled me at the water’s edge.
White tongues, myriad as stars,
love’s vows, drenching till,
dropping behind a dune, we
shared strawberries, salt kisses, flesh.
Rocking in the suck and swell,
a tern’s limp body, shattered pledge
of safe return. Wrecked hull
poking from the sand,
Her words crowd in on me, fish
shoaling, silver-scavenging my silence;
nip toes, tickles sharpening to needle barbs.
I daydream a cat, on a cushion
before a log-coddled fire,
curled in on itself
like a woman’s longings.
Tail aflicker, it sniffs our offerings. Milk
on our granny’s saucer, porcelain, Venetian blue.
Chicken breast, diced fine.
Vain lures to tempt it to a lap.
My dress strains, tightens. Hints
my heart would hide,
cradle, precious gems.
Rubies. Pearls. Calcified tears.
Pratibha Castle has been involved in creative endeavours since a young child, dancing, sing, and playing the piano. Trained as a classical singer, she formed a folk duo in the early 70s. A mother, holistic therapist, facilitator for women’s healing and meditation, her mother’s death inspired her to return to writing in her 50s when she received a first-class honours degree in Creative Writing, continuing with a CW Masters. She is published in print and online and been recognised in numerous poetry competitions. Her award-winning debut pamphlet A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers published 2022 will be followed by a second book, depicting 60s Notting Hill and India.
The Ekphrastic Review
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