iv. I Meant to Say, Margot Myers,

D. A. Prince, The South, Issue 64

Margot Myers has a PhD in fairy tales which explains, in part, her eye for key details and feel for characterisation. She can give the essence of a life in a crisp snapshot. This, from The Sex Life of Aunts, is her mother’s grandmother, who:

would cast off
her corset at closing time


and leave it on the settee, like the shell

of an old lobster, so as to quell

any passion.

Auntie Dolly, widowed, “... played the piano in chapel // and wore his departed mother’s hats”. There’s a child- like observation here, where every- thing is equal and grown-ups are to be wondered at but never questioned. This clarity has a slightly surreal quality in its sharpness and precision, and Myers maintains this in her prose poem Peckham, 1944:

On the day Woolworths is obliterated in a V2 attack, Dad makes

a salad with spinach leaves and nasturtium. Old Mrs Pittard Upstairs

walks past the kitchen window with her chamber pot.

In two short paragraphs, similar to flash fiction, life gleams on the page, vivid and unarguable. Housewives’ Choice opens memorably: “In that kitchen nappies boiled like puddings, / hung damp from the ceiling, the iron spat on my father’s shirts”. You can feel the clammy air, hear the crackle of spit; it’s both her memory and simultaneously the feel of my own childhood. The Conquest of Everest, 1953 is not the expected celebration of national triumph but the more significant childhood memory:

It’s the year our chimney catches fire.

Next-door and my dad climb the roof to its snow-ridge summit

because it’s there, lob snowballs down the smoking flue

Fifteen poems in an elegantly-designed pamphlet; they are well worth exploring.

 

D A Prince