That summer waiting to hear about my GCSEs
I worked in an ice-cream kiosk on the beachfront
and met a boy expecting to study maths in London
who had a way of putting Mr Whippy in cones,
and away from the children dripping lollies along
the promenade, I let his fingers do sums on my skin.
Come September I was counting back the weeks,
trying to predict when the multiplication we had been
working on would be noticed, and I could understand
what my new physics teacher meant about the cat
in the box that’s just been poisoned which you can’t
be sure is dead until you lift the lid and take a look.
Throughout October there was morning sickness and
the cat was running around the house to the screams
of my mother, who called me a slut loud enough
for Mrs Evans and her hard hearing, while my father,
too stunned to remind his wife about the neighbours,
tore up my postcard of Saint Paul’s Cathedral.
Now it’s September again and I’m back at my desk,
my mother at home with her own second chance,
another summer gone, a new law of motion learnt,
comparing hair and eyes, the way we sometimes cry,
and the boy from the kiosk comes home when he can
and demonstrates that he also has a way with bottles.
Tonight, when you finally slept, I read about Einstein
and how even he with his head for figures could make
the classic miscalculation and get his girlfriend pregnant;
but they gave their daughter away, a wrong answer.
We will work this out. You are simply someone new
among our number that we need to take account of.
by Lorraine Mariner
from I am twenty people!: A Third Anthology from The Poetry School, edited by Mimi Khalvati & Stephen Knight (2007)
The third of an ongoing series of anthologies, I am twenty people! celebrates The Poetry School’s tenth anniversary in style. Adventurous, unorthodox, playfully serious and seriously playful, these new poets explore their different worlds with confidence and panache. Nothing, it seems, is off limits, neither political engagement nor experimental audacity. From the intimate lyric to the historical narrative, the poetry gathered in I am twenty people! is more than simply a promise of future achievement. Offering, from each of its twenty poets, selections from a mature body of work that will surely lead to outstanding first collections, here is an anthology that stands in its own right as a hallmark of the best of new writing in Britain today.
ALICE ALLEN · LINDA BLACK · JEMMA BORG · CAROLE BROMLEY · CLAIRE CROWTHER · PATRICK EARLY · LUCY HAMILTON · LOUISA HOOPER · VALERIE JOSEPHS · JENNY LEWIS · MARY MACRAE · LORRAINE MARINER · BARBARA MARSH · KAREN MCCARTHY · DAVID PENN · DERRICK PORTER · SHAZEA QURAISHI · KATHRYN SIMMONDS · SARADHA SOOBRAYEN · KAY SYRAD
Founded in 1967, Enitharmon Press publishes fine quality literary editions. While specialising in poetry, we also publish fiction, essays, memoirs, translations, and an extensive list of artists’ books.