Peggy’s Brambles by Sarah Skinner

Gladly they grew and twisted
Through the years I knew them,
Their ripped ropes stained
As the pin pricks fondled
The frayed hem of my shorts
I cut from jeans
When winter was done.

And it was nothing like the inside,
With the wax dripping dolefully
Slipping down the candles to
The Virgin and the Cross,
Asking why I ever stopped believing in angels.

Filled the whole year round
With the smell of over-brewed camomile,
Picking through the perfume
Of too many women
And the muffled off-key notes
Of a piano nearly never played.

The kind, cracked walls boasted five smiling faces,
A young boy swimming in sepia –
Impersonating my father.
Like her china bell, who had no purpose,
But to draw attention from the broken clock.

I’d escape to the red roses that grew each summer
And the moss that was never sent away.
Beyond the sprawling clothes line of rusty poles
I once conquered the end of that garden,
And the building bonfire of brambles.

We picked those roses the day she died.
For a while the leaves lived on
Around the bud,
Veins to a sunset-purple sea
Which still pulsed in the light.

A heart – blood and dusty –
Those petals dried with a sweet smell,
Far more bitter than before.

And The Old Rhyme,
That used to bounce from my Grandma’s knees,
Caves in like the bramble den I made that summer,
Drops and echoes like the last notes
Of her funeral’s final hymn.


Artwork by Katy Lawson

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