Burnage Love Affair

By Rachel Mann

Location: Ivylea Road, Burnage

This poem was a finalist in our Rainy City Love Stories competition

All September dad was full of the sly white cat
that flowed like mercury up our yard
to cry for chunks of supper at the kitchen door.

On Sundays we’d drool as he carved
moist white sides of chicken
the prize, the hope, the dream of our week
only to ease crispy skin, the glorious slivers
onto a saucer for the beast to sniff
guard and gobble as we watched
mutinous over our tough and greasy fare.

On weekdays mum scowled as dad left half his plate
(complaining of bilious gripe or a just too hefty dinner)
and slid liver and onions onto the creature’s patch with a caress.

Come October dad had moved on:
curtains wanted closing, the fire demanded a poke
and rheumatism was dribbling down his back like damp;
the calm of staring at the ripple of fur coiled on its step
stood no chance against crackling coals,
The Navy Lark and a comfy chair.

But the cat refused to let go.
After tea for days its mewing pierced mum’s ears
until she’d wince like she’d bit tin foil
wring her dish cloth like a chicken’s neck
and I’d hiss and shu and stare
the yellow eyes into retreat.

Now our yard is nothing more than its place for pissing
or launching flight onto the neighbour’s fence, the exotic beyond.
I saw it once, as still as a gunman composed for the kill,
ready to tear a vole. The prey – its gift – was presented
at someone else’s door.

Rachel Mann is the vicar of St Nicholas Church, Burnage.



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