Three Poems by Gareth Culshaw

WAITING AT THE BUS STOP WITH A GIRL I HAD NEVER SEEN

Her ears twitched as radar’s searching for Alien sounds.
I saw the make-up smudged over her vimto swigging lips.
She wore yesterday’s face. Spoke into her phone with a muted tongue.
The bus was late. Two dogs sniffed the air through a garden gate.
Swifts busied themselves with chicane moves below cirrus clouds.
I had my hands in my pockets like a golfer waiting their turn to putt.
She finished the call, put her phone back in her mouth.
Her eyes were the same as a mole’s when digging through soil.
I was going to ask her if everything was fine, but her stilettos made me weary. Perfume coughed from her chest.
Mascara kept the sunlight out of her eyes. The bus was late.
Cars filled the silence with brake sounds and arguing rubber.

I looked down the road for the bus nothing came by except
a pick-up truck full of fence panels. The driver had a beard
made from the death of someone he loves. She got up,
walked away from the stop. I bull-frowned. She had ballerina calves,
tennis player thighs and left me to watch the swifts above my head.
I never saw her again, that’s if you don’t count the day,
I watched a blackbird through my binoculars.


THE WIDOW

Her back rounds like the spine
of a dog that shits in the corner of a
field. Her hair is icicles of a marriage
that lasted half a century.

I watch her shuffle the earth below her feet. Fingernails antique
brown, her eyes stick out like
prolapsed hemorrhoids. The
wedding ring

tarnishes with each winter. The voice
she heard every morning from
the kitchen, the voice that cracked
with every drag, every can of stout

is out there somewhere, and she
aches for it to come back. But the
cross on the wall stays still.
And the church she visits hints at silence.


THE NEIGHBOUR WHO WAITS FOR HER HUSBAND TO RETURN HOME.

I noticed her walking in his shoes last week
carried Lidl bags that made her shoulders
budgie slouch. Her wedding ring is a coupling
to her husband’s hand. He went away on a train,
and left his return ticket in a woman’s mouth.
The family have been waiting to hear from him
ever since. He posts letters to his wife,
tells her he is velcroed to an island and awaits a boat
to pick him up. She replies via strimming the living
room and painting the garden hedge.
Someone said they saw him in the local Co-op.
He bought firelighters, whiskey and a pack
of digestives. She reads the letters to the church
congregation as they sit with Werther’s Originals.


At night, she dunks hobnobs into his cup of Tetley,
sees his creosote frown on the edge of the fading biscuit.
The dog sniffs the shed air before sitting
on a Woman’s Own magazine. She dips more hobnobs,
then with a golfer’s swing, throws the tea onto the lawn.
The dog watches with woolen sock eyebrows.
She goes to bed at midnight, lies on a Dunelm Mill quilt.
Shivers from the cold that feeds through open windows.
Holds his pillow as a Koala on a tree.


Gareth lives in Wales. He has two collections by FutureCycle, The Miner & A Bard’s View. He is a current student at Manchester Met. Follow him on Twitter at Culshawpoetry1 and on Instagram at culshawpoetry.

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