Column 28

The best literature for children often has a sinister quality, tapping into the fact that children’s imaginations are a swirling mass of the playful and the fearful. The nightmare-ish feeling of being trapped in a watering can, presumably to escape the possibility of being shot and eaten, is not something I could have articulated as a child but has lived on in me as an adult. It is no surprise then that Angela Readman is able to extract that sort of quality from an object where adult dreams – the good and bad kind – are also made. It’s from her latest collection, The Book of Tides, published by Nine Arches Press.

Beatrix Potter’s Bed

I never told you how when I saw the sows
birthing I could no longer draw pigs in red velvet.
The sounds curl around me like tails, drag me
back to watch you digging all day. One hand
brushes a fringe from your eyes, we look,
rabbits in our garden, eyes hopping into holes.
The sky’s a blue jacket, snared on a fence,
I suppose tonight we’ll try again. But, for now,
we have daylight to farm, hours to bump into,
glimpses of each other to snatch. You: lips wind raw,
knee deep in sheep. Me: knuckles radish red/white
pounding dough. Tonight we will pull back the sheets
like squirrels making a raft of twigs, open the basket
and pour a hundred pictures the day paints of us
over the bed, so full, I can’t see room for more.


Used with kind permission of Angela Readman and Nine Arches Press.