Rose Mary Boehm – All these last years I planted words

Boehm LE P&W January 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, January 2024

All these last years I planted words, poems by Rose Mary Boehm.

All these last years I planted words

I ploughed furrows into
the black soil of anamnesis,
anatomy, animosity. Weaving,
waving, waning, water bearer.

Your diazepam, dear.
The bells. He tells tales
of the hole into which I fell.
After a while my eyes adjusted
to the effulgence of foxfire fungi.

Sowing out fault lines and faux pas.
My skin itches from the dust
of the mowing. Fault lines
grow fast. Before I could throw
a line and anchor, the tectonic
plates of our two bodies moved.

Flying to New York

We are doing a left.
The Hudson Bay disappears under
the rising wing,
the sea comes towards us.

I remembered Miss Geography.
An elderly ship in which we safely sailed
in a no-nonsense way.
I remembered the wooden stick
in her bony hand, veins thick
under her skin, poking the map
of North America.
“Hudson Bay!” she stentored sternly,
and repeated it so it would penetrate
our thick skulls. “Hudson Bay!”

And when we approached Canada,
before making the turn,
it all looked exactly as it did then,
in that dingy school room,
on that much used geography map
hanging from a rusty hook in the wall.
It was for rolling up.
As Miss Geography became more relaxed,
one leg went up onto an unoccupied bench,
and long, beige, woolen bloomers
became visible under a medium long,
beige skirt.

There were only old teachers left.
It was 1950. The young ones
had all been killed at the front.
The new crop hadn’t been harvested yet.
Then, one day they trickled in.
First just a few.
Oh. My. God. There was Miss French.
She can’t have been older than 25.
She wore fashionable dresses,
and lipstick!
We all loved her to bits and wanted
to be like her when we grew up!
She was soon followed by Mr History.
We swooned, and my friend Doris
passed her history exam with
a very revealing wrap-around blouse
as well as two impressive tits.
Mr Maths and Miss Art, we snickered,
saw each other after class.

When I pedalled my bike home,
my school satchel clamped precariously
behind my squeaky seat, I looked forward
to this unknown journey awaiting me,
once I was free to explore a world
that was so full of promise.
I took my hands off the handlebars
and whistled.

Between Night and Day in the Port City

The first trams fill the narrow cobblestoned
Antwerp street, for a moment clanging
into semi consciousness, the sleepers
still full of last night’s sins and revellery,
a pintjespak in the bar at the corner
before the sun comes up,
where the working girls and taxi drivers will find
a hot soup, a fresh baguette, and a cognac
to warm the gullet.

Condoms, cigarette butts, and chewed-out bubble gums
side by side, friendly witnesses
to meetings under the cast-iron wrought streetlamps
or in the shadows afforded to those
who would not be seen.

Annetje stretches under her semen-stained sheets,
giving herself a luxurious reprieve from demanding hands
and urging voices. The cat never twitched.

Madame looks at her bedside clock and relaxes,
her heavy body almost unable to move.
After the last client had left, she waddled upstairs
and fell into her sagging mattress.
She needs to pee.

Piet whistles, hands in his dark-blue overall pockets,
walking purposefully towards the harbour,
breathing in a sharp early-morning air
that carries promises on the waters of river and sea.
Another ship has come in from Valparaíso.

© Rose Mary Boehm 

Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as seven poetry collections. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a ‘Pushcart’, once for ‘Best of Net’. Her latest: Do oceans have underwater borders? (Kelsay Books July 2022), Whistling in the dark (Cyberwit July 2022), and Saudade (December 2022) are available on Amazon. Also available on Amazon is a new collection, Life stuff, published by Kelsay Books November 2023.

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