Angela Readman

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.)