from
Stroud Poets 8
Kim Baker, Jo Casling, Eley Furrell


The Gift
Jo Casling

After four knocks I open the door.
Two people, pillared in grey,
block the street scene -
which still carries on- slow moving cars,
fast moving pushchairs.

They smile kindly
with one eye over my shoulder.
Her arm hangs like a funeral curtain,
his cradles a brown paper package.
Delivery?

A hand touches my arm,
thank you.
I take the parcel,
light as a feather
it nests into me.

Up the hallway, I step
into the dining room.
Yellow bounces off walls,
an elephant chimes,
the kettle whistles.

Its wrapping is loose,
held by a single strip;
‘I can use this again.’
A breeze cuts the heavy heat.
My heart taps, lead lines my lips.

The paper forms a rectangle.
I flatten the curling edges,
press firmly onto the marked table.
Smooth the creases.

In the middle sits the gift.
A toffee brown plastic tub,
taller than wide,
not chubby. Efficient.

Framed, the stripped poppies nod,
seeds blister in the heat.

I run the side of my finger down
the edge of its curved cheek.
Cold. Smooth.
Lid fixed.

The room is empty.
A small blue hand waves
as air rushes in.
It topples into
my hollow lap.

It’s almost nothing.
I tilt it, one way
then the other.
Something shifts.
Inside, I slip.