Ann Arbor Review
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AAR history note: in print 1967 - 1980. Irregular publications 1980 - 2004. As ezine 2004 - present. Most of 51 years all together....
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On his lead, old Mr. Thomas’s Airedale
sniffs and snorts at Ann’s gatepost,
mulling and almost munching the smells
of other animals. By the corner,
the two they call “the double Mrs.”,
Musgrove and Morgan, pick deftly over
some neighbourly insult. Leaving the Lane,
those two old lads head for the café,
there to mull over childhood’s rhapsody,
its innocence and its indecency.
In the gym, actually cycling,
she is free from any mulling over
(save over her Personal Best maybe?
her muscular development?)
but in the tea bar later, she and Tracy
pick over Charlie Coach’s last selection.
Jogging is better, up and down
the Haven Road, hitting the wind.
She can savour its directions, origins,
Siberian Easterlies, the jet stream West.
And walking sometimes on the coastal path,
her horizon maybe thirty miles away,
the Irish Sea and the Atlantic there,
it’ll strike her … if you’re going to mull,
what of the ocean’s birth, its deep geography,
the world’s creation in its depths and greens,
the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates.
Dress-me-ups and Tie-me-downs
those summer Saturdays, he’d wear torn shorts
or go barefoot, or just go without shoelaces.
Affectations, of course, the smartarse, and
he tripped in the café, hit his nose on the juke box.
He’d say, half-singing, Oh boys, I wanna be free.
Later he’d miss revision classes, a last-minute swot,
scrape through, get by, dress anyhow, grinning,
one of the few Catholics back then to skip church.
He married and his five kids buzzed like hornets.
He was a teacher in the comp, the pupils loved him.
Break times, he’d be in for a smoke with the caretaker.
He’d prod me in the chest (I was in the bank) and say,
I don’t want the dress-me-ups and the tie-me-downs.
I’d visit him in his last illness. He was white and still.
He would say, I just want to see this clearly.
I’m taking painkillers, I’m not stupid,
but I will not, will not see a priest.
Robert Nisbet, Haverfordwest, Wales, UK
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