She’s a Game Old Bird

My granny

takes canary sips
from her service-station tea,
jaundiced eyes lantern-bright
as she asks, again,
who the ambulance is for.

is magpie-quick
the nurses say,
fills her knicker drawer
with plasters, rubber gloves,
someone else’s dentures.

sticks her beak in other rooms
Look at’em! Lolling!

picks over the injustice
like a pigeon
pecking at its bruised breast.

her curled fingers
clawing damp strands.
she says,
I shall ask you to leave.

sings of her cuckoo-child,
sees his father one day in me
and cups my face,
tells me I have nothing
to be sorry for.

lies in a sketch of stillness:
eyes and mouth drawn
A sense of
something flown.

by Liz Soar

Please note that the Weekly Poem will be taking a week’s break next week, but will return with another poem on Monday 10 July.

The Poetry Centre’s International Poetry Competition, judged this year by award-winning poet Helen Mort, is open for entries! Poems are welcomed from writers of 18 years or over in the following two categories: English as an Additional Language and Open category. First Prize in both categories is £1000, with £200 for Second. The competition is open for submissions until 11pm GMT on 28 August 2017. Visit our website for more details. 

‘She’s a Game Old Bird’ is copyright © Liz Soar, 2017. It is reprinted from Ten Poems about Grandparents (Candlestick Press, 2017) by permission of Candlestick Press.

Notes from Candlestick Press:

Liz Soar (b 1976) was born in Lancashire and studied French at New College, Oxford. After completing a MSt in Women’s Studies, she spent the early part of her career on the fringes of the literary world, first with theatrical literary agent, Judy Daish, and then in Oxford with David Fickling Books, before re-training as a teacher. Liz currently teaches English at Headington School and writes for pleasure whenever she can. Her poem ‘She’s a game old bird’ was written as part of Claire Askew’s ‘Creatrix’ course with the Poetry School. She lives in Charlbury with her husband and young daughter.

‘She’s a Game Old Bird’ is one of the poems featured in Candlestick Press’s new title Ten Poems about Grandparents, which is being launched at Headington School in Oxford at 7pm on Monday 3 July. The launch will feature readings by the anthology’s student editors, as well as by pupils and the English teacher whose poems are included in the selection. All are welcome! To attend, please email or call 0115 967 4455.

All the poems were chosen by students at the school. The pamphlet also includes poems written by some of the students, alongside others by established poets including Tiffany Atkinson, John Burnside, Vicki Feaver, Joan Johnston, Mohja Kahf, Derek Mahon, and Andrew Waterhouse. The pupils’ choices reflect the multicultural world in which they are growing up. There’s a poem in three languages about a joyful reunion with a grandparent arriving from overseas and another in which a Muslim grandmother raises eyebrows in a posh department store by washing her feet in the sink in the ladies’ room. 

Candlestick Press is an independent publisher based in Nottingham. It has been publishing poetry pamphlets since 2008 – not only for people who already love poetry, but also for those who will love it but perhaps don’t know that yet. Candlestick’s ‘instead of a card’ pamphlets are designed to make an ideal alternative to a mainstream greetings card and are a small gift in their own right. Each title is supplied with a matching envelope and bookmark left blank for the purchaser’s own special message.

Candlestick prints at least 3,000 copies of each new title and its pamphlets are stocked by museums, galleries and gift shops, as well as independent and larger bookshops. In 2016 over 55,000 pamphlets were sold.

You can see Candlestick’s full range of titles on the publisher’s website. You can also find Candlestick Press on Facebook and on Twitter.