2007 - 2022

Poem of the week : Leviticus And Numbers


I was seven when my brother said
Anne Bowles is the prettiest girl in the school
and she was, Anne Bowles was
pretty as her green gingham dress
pretty as her fresh white socks
pretty as her navy-blue knickers
which is all I remember of her
though I fell in love as true as the nativity play.

I was nine when my brother said
the Girl On The Beach is beautiful
and she was, the Girl On The Beach was
beautiful as her long tanned legs
beautiful as her two-piece swimsuit
beautiful as her hair sleek in the waves
which is all I remember of her
though I fell in love as true as the summer holiday.

I was eleven when my brother said
Jane Stewart is the best-looking girl in your class
and she wasn’t, that was Yvonne Gardner, but
Jane was the fastest runner
Jane had the cheekiest grin
Jane was the one I kissed in the playground
which is all I remember of her
though I fell in love as true as the end of primary school.

I was thirteen when my brother said
Angela is the best dancer in the troupe
and she was, Angela was
the best and lightest dancer
with a sly come-on rabbit-tooth smile
and butterscotch hair scrunched in ribbons
which is all I remember of her
though I fell in love as true as my adolescent erection.

I was fifteen when my brother died.
Six lost months later I fell in love with Marc
who really was the most beautiful boy you ever saw
and I still remember everything about him
from his wine-dark eyes and olive throat
to his football-dazzling feet
and every inch of everything between —
but laws written and unwritten said No
you must not know
you must not show
you must not tell
and I never fell in love again.

From Mortal Clay by Alan McGlas (Pink & Green ISBN 978-1-906708-03-1)
Alan MacGlas is a retired government servant and an editor of poetry, short stories and other literaria.

Comments (2)

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  1. Justin Kenrick says:

    Great poem

    It’s a mark of my ignorance that I had not heard of Alan MacGlas. So I did a search and found a brilliant piece by him that includes this:

    “ There are questions that people often ask me at parties, such as, “Who are you?” and “How did you get in?” and “Would you please leave?” The answers are never easy. Sitting on the kerb with my feet in the gutter after being thrown out of a party is a moment that lends itself to contemplation of the deeper meanings and revelations of life. It is a moment when I might, if I could, look up at the stars, and wonder at such calm beauty in the midst of the chaos and cacophony of eighties music still drifting out of the premises from which I have just been defenestrated. But I can see no stars; for the inscrutable laws of the universe decree that it will always be raining at such moments, and I am aware only that my shoes, so elegant in the illusions of dry daylight, are rapidly assuming the guise and weight of gum-saturated cardboard around my feet in the gurgling effluent. Instead, certain bitter realizations come to me, about life, failure, and the manifest pairing thereof within my corpus. I do not complain. Failure is the stuff of art. Look at Vincent Van Gogh. Look at Andrew Lloyd Webber. I am intimately acquainted with failure. I know failure from the inside and the out. That’s why I am such a perfect editor.”

    1. Alan MacGlas says:

      Good heavens. That’s going back a bit. My Facebook posts are much shorter and plainer (and rarer) nowadays. But just as much nonsense.

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