When I was seven I fished a newt out of the Conker Pond.
Newton, I breathed, stroking his mottled green back,
entranced by his crest.
As, years on, I was entranced by Gordon
who came from Newton-Le-Willows.
When Mum called Tea! that long-gone day, I left Newt in a puddle.
By the time I returned, full of baked-beans-on-toast, he was gone.
Just like my bag, the morning I bent to select a pair of chops
for Gordon’s supper. Worse, was losing a child for an hour
in the subway. A child who might not have been
but for an accident.
After Newt and the man from Newton-Le-Willows, I love the sea;
the salt-spume tang that engulfs me in Whitby and Isla Negra
when cresting waves pound cliffs, and cormorants cry.
The sea has the same effect on my knees
as the sherry with which Gordon plied me
before the accident. When, to make things right, I sang the school song
whose words now bring the sea to my cheeks
as I recall how we stood in assembly,
all tunic and tie, and were promised
Honour before Honours – if we didn’t drink too much sherry,
lose pets and small children, and the world seemed a sensible place
because we kept to the left in the corridor
and went to Italy to study Art.
Since cobbling a fishing net from a stick and a nylon stocking
trailing it through murky water, landing a creature with a flailing
tail, seems one thing has led to another.
Susan Siddeley was born in Yorkshire, attended university in Swansea, then emigrated to Canada with her geologist husband. After various overseas postings, she now divides her time between Toronto and Santiago, Chile, where they’ve hosted several writing retreats. These resulted in four poetry chapbooks and a memoir, Home First.