Mrs. Anderson was always polishing her dustbins.
Now this was a polishing street;
where windows and cars
were polished until they reflected
the untidy miracles of clouds and sky.
The branches of trees,
which gave us avenue status,
not allowed to reach too far,
were polished into lollipops;
the illegitimate child
born to the teenage girl across the road,
was polished away
and somehow returned as her sister.
And my mother had shares
in green soap and caustic soda;
her house and children shone with a hard brightness,
our faces rubbed red
in her attempts
to remove the blemish of childhood.
But Mrs. Anderson was always polishing her dustbins.
First she would wipe
the milk bottles she had just put out,
round every whorl of the chain-link fence,
in every curl of the wrought-iron gate
before she re-galvanised the dustbins
Some years later she became ill,
an untidy internal flowering,
that no-one could bring themselves to name,
and was finally
© James Nash, Coma Songs [2003,2006]