Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Last Day of Earth

The sky is a terrible colour to make the two girls cry,
but I sign that it is colour of lemon juice.
Other happy yellows I can remember
jonquils in winter daffys in spring
a plastic sippy cup passed between them as babes
the liquid gold of sun in winter entering a room.

Anyway, it’s a day and what is there to do
but go to the outside laundry
take the wet clothes from the machine
and hang them out to dry,
bring in yesterday’s sheets.
I shall teach you my children
how to survive the end of the world:
first you take one corner, then you take another
and you walk together like this,
it’s a dance.

Tiger doesn’t want to help, misery gutsing,
but Sibbi, the youngest, likes the work.
You sleep in the sheets, I sign to Tiger’s face. You sleep here,
you can help. I am not your slave.
We stew tea, eat the last of the bread.
When will Daddy be home? Sibbi signs.
I press my thumb in my palm, dip my finger: Later.

I fill the kitchen sink with water
look out the window at that awful shrinking sky.
Tiger stands beside me, picking up a towel.
Sibbi squirms in under my arm.
I draw them to me and we take it in turns to
name the colour
with our fingers:

Dandelion, duckling, bananas, best dresses.

Sicky-bub, I think. 
Urine stain 
weeping pus
Tomorrow it will burn.

I sing them to sleep in cool clean sheets.
Everything I have ever made,
I have made with these hands, even their names.
Even the song of their names.
When finally they drift off
the silence I live in is complete.
I wait for their father to come home.


  1. Thank you for your poems, Penni. I have enjoyed them immensely.

  2. I am loving this run of poetry. These last few especially...

  3. Whoah! Wow! Can this turn into more please? A short story or a novel?