Geraldine Clarkson

Geraldine Clarkson

Once you have been a nun you carry your cell with you

A wrong way she liked him would surface on Sundays—
picayune and dim-set, rising from her murky mind-lake.
Breaking from the furrowed stubbled seat of her. Primrose lace
and claret vest; bending, funicular; Renoir-bereted, berry-
bright, honour-bound and bedevilled.

For as long as she could remember there had been police:
parked up near the back door, eating all-day breakfast
baguettes, stiff with savage sausages. Any access of sunlight—
a memory loosened like a plume of purple lilac fallen over the
fence of a south-facing garden—and they’d have it restrained
and cuffed, and taken to cells until it exhaled its last mudslide
breath, a fugitive puff of June.

Once you have been a nun you carry your cell with you, like a
Portakabin, or like St Catherine of Siena’s inner anchorage,
refuge from her 24 siblings. A lick of paint; primavera
camisoles and horsehair socks.

A Bishop, a father, a privy counsellor, an abbot, all beating
humility into one by force, when it should rise from the earth
like dung-steam. Other authority figures take their precarious
thrones, demeaned by irony, and toilet humour.

Once you don’t mind, everything is easy, after a long road of
minding and being minded, in full-peacock-glare, a-summer,
angling after easy-wear armour and curvaceous armchairs.

The sum of it all: ruched and rouged and ready; then over. Over
to you anyway.

GERALDINE CLARKSON’s first full poetry collection, Monica’s Overcoat of Flesh, was published by Nine Arches Press in May 2020. Verve Poetry Press will publish a pamphlet, Crucifox, in May 2021.