MAGI GIBSON poetry collections include Chapman’s best-selling Wild Women of a Certain Age. Her poems appear in Modern Scottish Women Poets (Canongate), Scottish Love Poems (Canongate), The Edinburgh Book of Twentieth Century Scottish Poetry, (EUP), New Writing Scotland (ASLS), Original Prints, (Polygon), The Butterfly Rammy (The Commonweal), New Boots and Pantisocracies (Smokestack) and many other anthologies, literary and new writing magazines and The Scotsman and The Herald. She has held three Scottish Arts Council Fellowships and a Royal Literary Fund Fellowship. Former Reader in Residence with Glasgow Women’s Library, she won the Scotland on Sunday/Women 2000 Poetry Prize, the Stirling Open Poetry Prize, and was twice runner up in the Scottish Open Poetry competition. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, German and Polish. Her new poetry collection, Washing Hugh MacDiarmid’s Socks will be published in March 2017 by Luath. See magigibson.co.uk
Woman sunbathing in Bridgeton
White van man stares as he turns his van in the demolition site
where she reclines, a glitter of glass around her feet.
The tenement which once stood there collapsed one night
left a gap, ugly as an East End grampa’s grin.
An angry dog runs up, barks angrily. She sits,
still as an installation. Woman Sunbathing in Bridgeton.
A passing drunk propounds the notion (to anyone who’ll listen)
she’s live street-art, donated by Rich Fuckin Arty Folk
to cheer the post-slum poverty. Serenely she applies more lotion.
Three lads in trackies swagger by, one spits, one burps, one eats
her with his eyes. A painter in white overalls, whistling
a haunting tune, flits along the dark side of the street, falters at the sight.
A wee wife, skin tanned nicotine, waddles past, trailing
a battered tartan trolley. Silence. Sun. Silence.
The slow beat of a drum. A mummer, blonde hair streaming
from her black top hat, leads a creamy Rolls Royce hearse,
three gleaming limousines as Death brings glamour
to this urban desolation scene.
Silence… Sun… the thrum of far-off traffic, pulsing
like the heartbeat of the city. And, if you listen hard,
a breeze, rustling the leaves of an asphalt-rooted buddleia,
a songbird in its branches singing
how beautiful it is to be alive,
in June sunshine, in Bridgeton.
Her lipstick smile’s rough red gash
signals more a warning than a welcome
as she shouts at the wall, or anyone who’ll hear,
Right, pal, same again, then slouches back
to the corner she calls home, watches the bar
spin and blur in a kaleidoscope of alcohol.
Once she was pretty, pink, soft, sweet-scented,
now she’s faded, withered, too delicate
for this stuffy saloon, too delicate to survive
the icy blast each time the door swings open.
My Mother’s Funeral
January. Twelve below. Cold seeps through our coats.
We shuffle, cough, crack quiet graveside jokes
to keep our grief at bay, our breath ballooning white
before our mouths like misty lungs, as if we’re trying
to say, we are the living, we persist.
And then the minister comes, cantillates his dust-to-dust,
and we stand solemnly, prepared to trust
your soul to God, when a blackbird in a frost-encrusted
tree bursts into song. And I remember you, not dead,
not lying in a frozen grave, but in the garden you so loved,
planting, pruning, weeding. Whistling like a bird.
The minister lifts his hands, intones, now let us pray.
From the tree the blackbird flies away.
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