The Kittiwakes Taught Us to Swear
The seagulls swept in to teach us how to cry,
wings flexing flint parasols over small fists
strapped to women with creels in their arms.
The sun hammered our walk from Cullercoats,
babbies flecked as clutches of eggs, fishwife
faces brass. Our mothers loathed the birds,
brawling bladdered bridesmaids of lasses
married to sea more than man, stalkers
dropping spats of white flowers in our hair.
The air scratted, voice Vs beak. It was us
against bird against time, the catch a perish
in baskets thatching willowy bruises to our arms.
Our bruises were our bracelets we wore careless
as kittiwakes carting cloud on a wing. Daylight
slipping, a whitebait in our grip, women crawed,
allowed a blue stream to flow off their lips
to keep nightfall at bay. The kittiwakes cracked up
as daughters swore, loud as scrap metal dealers
scratting over a lead sky, snatches of scran.
They schooled us girls well, our lesson learnt,
the loudest bloody bird always wins.
More work by Angela Readman can be found in Elbow Room Volume Ten
Angela Readman’s poetry has won The Mslexia Poetry Competition, The Essex Poety Prize and The Charles Causley. It has recently appeared in various journals including The Rialto, Popshot, Magma and The Lake. She is also a short story writer and won The Costa Short Story Award. Her debut story collection Don’t Try This at Home is published by And Other Stories (2015.)