an ode for my goddaughter on her christening
Again, addressee, patient hearer;
(you are each of this and that);
a sob; a smile as big as your fist;
the laugh you laugh at the wind in the trees
(you are more, you are all, you are none of these).
Sit close, sit close in my arms, Eve;
let’s watch the people as they pass through this wood.
Look, there are some people we know, Eve:
here, a woman with this voice, that voice;
there, a man with these eyes, those eyes;
a girl who ran where lightning struck,
a boy who worked the railway track
(and you are no more this than that);
artists, activists, writers, refugees –
you are more, you are all, you are none of these.
Well Eve (I say), let’s think for a while,
you and I, here in the shade (but you know
who you are, and you press a secret smile
into somebody’s shoulder, into mine, just so).
And a woman we almost know
a look over her shoulder
and walks away
through the waving
I leave my living to my better self.
Night after night my lines are being spoken,
My props are being taken off the shelf
And put to use again; my silence broken,
My waiting stillness hatching quick and bright;
The words I know, the steps I know so well
Are not my own. Out there under the light
My life turns on its magic carousel
And I am still its predeceasing ghost.
Now 7pm (she buttons up my shirt) –
Too many cups of coffee, bit of toast
(She dabs at my reflection, smooths my skirt) –
I wait again for them to call me in
To come, at last, and step into my skin.
Mary Anne Clark studies English at Merton College, Oxford, where she won the 2016 Newdigate Prize. Her poems have appeared in ASH, The Mays, and two anthologies from The Emma Press.