Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Two poems by Anthony White

The Ungodly Hour of the Morning

…comes later now than then.
When my mother hissed from the top of the stairs
“I told you to be home by ten
I’ve been worried sick”, I didn’t think I cared.
Was ten a godly hour and midnight not?
I never asked. I was red rag to a bull enough
Without probing that inflammatory spot.
Instead, I shrugged off my guise as a young tough,
Said “Sorry Mum, I won’t do it again”.
I said that every time I caused her pain;
Every time I put the door back on the chain.

These days it comes between three and four.
My mum’s no longer here to put me straight,
Kiss my forehead, tell me not to fret.
Ungodly, a ridiculous metaphor
It was then, it just made me want to laugh,
It is now, it really doesn’t help;
I’ve discovered I can be worried sick as well.
When I was sixteen I thought my mother daft,
She on the landing, I at the front door,
Those summit meetings during our Cold War.
Fifty years on, I wish I’d loved her more.

My mother was a party girl who believed in God

…and was shocked by almost everything
That wasn’t nice and learned from the catechism;
But people getting drunk was all right
As long as they laughed and didn’t hurt anybody
Or themselves; and how she laughed when Cousin Frank
Walked over the bonnet of his car to get to the driver’s seat
And drove all the way to Wokingham without a scratch.
And I wonder if it ever occurred to her that
Dancing with other men’s wives was anything but
A simple pleasure and a duty of a kind,
While she stood in the kitchen pouring nuts and crisps
Into bowls, and wiping spills, and stubbing still-smoking
Cigarette ends, while hearing my father’s voice tell stories
And the merriment of all the guests.

It was laughter she loved and children,
For they too would grow up to love God
And believe in parties, and look after her
When she was old and my father dead.