Perhaps it was the humid Paris day, perhaps
the naked glory of Le Baiser or my blatant boasts
of l’amour libre of which I knew, in fact, rien
that galvanised my cousin to try his luck with me,
but when he placed one sweaty main upon my
firm nichon and one upon my fesse, I was first
disinclined and then embarrassed. It was clear
he was quite serious, and had in mind, he said,
avec un clin d’œil, a quick and casual act of joy.
When I retorted with grammatical correctness
Je suis ta cousine!, he snorted Frenchly, flushed,
and muttered something vague about la frigidité
des femmes Anglaises, tossed his prematurely
balding tête and sauntered off into the crowd around
Sculpteur et sa Muse, leaving me abandonnée at last
to make some notes, before I took the métro home
to find him locked inside his room, his Jewish mother
elbow-deep in worry, onions and gefilte fish.
by Jacqueline Saphra
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, and feel free to forward the link to friends and colleagues.
‘The Day My Cousin Took me to the Musée Rodin’ is copyright © Jacqueline Saphra, 2017. It is reprinted from All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches, 2017) by permission of Nine Arches Press.
Notes from Nine Arches:
All My Mad Mothers explores love, sex and family relationships in vivacious, lush poems that span the decades and generations. At the heart of this collection of poems is the portrait of a mother as multitudes – as a magician with a bathroom of beauty tricks, as necromancer, as glamorous fire-starter, trapped in ever-decreasing circles and, above all else, almost impossible to grasp.
Jacqueline Saphra’s The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye, 2011) was nominated for The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. A book of illustrated prose poems, If I Lay on my Back I saw Nothing but Naked Women (The Emma Press 2014), won Best Collaborative Work at the Saboteur Awards 2015. All My Mad Mothers was published by Nine Arches Press in May 2017 and A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller is due from Hercules Editions in September 2017. She teaches at The Poetry School. You can read more about All My Mad Mothers on the Nine Arches website, and more about Jacqueline’s work on her own site. You can also follow the poet on Twitter. Last month, Jacqueline appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour to talk about her new book, and the interview is available on the BBC website (listen in from 12 minutes onwards).
Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets (The Terrors by Tom Chivers and The Titanic Cafe closes its doors and hits the rocks by David Hart) were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2012, Nine Arches launched the Debut New Poets Series of first collections and the press has now published more than 30 collections of poetry and 10 issues of the magazine. We continue to build a reputation as a publisher of well-crafted and innovative contemporary poetry and short story collections. Follow Nine Arches on Facebook and Twitter.
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