In the near-deserted petrol station
we took turns going to the hatch.
When the other car started
Oh, What A Night was blasted
into the emptiness.
My mind couldn’t help but go
to nightclubs and dresses,
gyspy tops and purple eyeshadow,
and I thought I want my daughters
to have memories
that can be jarred like that;
back to make-up, and mistakes, and meeting,
and making promises, and keeping secrets,
expectations, phone calls, stops and starts,
high-heeled shoes, and higher boots, cash,
and waists, time for waiting and for chances,
time to kill,
and all the dancing.
The man with all the memories
joined the supermarket line
but kept shuffling back down the aisle.
We were all giving each other space,
but I swear he thought I had it.
He kept edging away then taking his place,
and I felt I was covered in lipstick kisses.
So, here he was back again,
the old man with his wheelie charge,
all he had was fabric softener
and a bunch of big bright purple flowers.
He was old in a raffle-ticket manner,
with dinner-dance authority.
You’ve your priorities straight, I observed,
in a world of fevered panic-sprees.
And then I regretted the word fevered,
and told him to go ahead of me.
Oh, no, he said, I’m waiting for half ten.
It’s our anniversary,
I’ve a bottle of wine to get.
Herself likes a glass, I like it myself.
I feel suddenly young
unlike recently, when I became aunt to an adult.
I want to play The Weight and jump
with the crowd that has reclaimed the planet.
I want to stand on my old road, in line
as Ursula Cogan passes
in silence, and for the last time.
Oh, the nights we had in her kitchen.
While they stand I watch flashes of yellow,
a life of painted faces prevails
as the goldfinches pick at the heather,
alive and uncontained.
May we all have the prospect of flowers,
and if wine is the choice of your other
I hope you will queue until the tills allow it.
Let our children have the time
to join the world and live their lives
and be summoned by the sweet surprise
of a sometime scent, a sound, a sight.
Joanna O’Sullivan’s poetry blog is called The Irish Rhymes https://theirishrhymes.blogspot.com/
The imagery creates a real visual resonance in thus empathic narrative poem.