Janet Fisher

A Huddersfield Poet

Month: July 2016


Dust on the mantelpiece; postcards and brittle letters

telling of boys in old swim-suits, picnics on hot sand,
piano-playing at dusk. Photos of aunts
and unknown friends of aunts; laughter
in gardens of houses long moved from;
baby and dog on a rug.

Merciless, I rip papers from folders,
pack books and ornaments for charity.
She will live in my heart, I say,
I don’t need her on my shelves.
But my heart is lumbered with ghosts, flickering
on the turn of a stair, in a child’s grin.

Janet Fisher
in Life and Other Terms, Shoestring Press, 2015

Chalk Farm


Blaring elephants echo from the zoo.
Friday evenings as you cross the Square
I watch from the fourth floor, throw down
the key. We’re squashed into the side room

while my flatmate makes it with a violinist
just back from Prague and its brief spring.
She can get us freebies for the RFH,
acoustics crisp as sheets on a line.

Cheap folk nights in cork-lined rooms,
or a stroll up to Heath Street for a curry
over Primrose Hill where MacNeice heard
the trees felled at the start of the war.

‘Summer of love’ – that was last year.
You can see St Paul’s from here, clear as a bell.

In Brittle Bones
“Throw down the key” – our version of the balcony scene when you’re 4 floors up.

Life and Other Terms


I split autumn perennials,
layer rhododendrons for spring
lashed by winds,
lacking even good bones
against the virtues of age.

With full hands
I pull at heels of rosemary,
lad’s love sweet and sad,
bitter rue and yarrow.
Geraniums on the patio
turned out like children to get the sun;
the faint green of old bottles
wait for something to be done with them,

and I see living’s a job like any other,
that there are no true and perfect implements
to trim the edges, only working usages, like knives.

In Life and Other Terms


The Moon And Arlo


The harvest moon
in a scarf of cloud
whitens the fields.

Jupiter rests by its left flank.
There’s a lot to think about.
The stars are humble, waiting.

Sheila’s eggs are small moons
naked in the Petrie dish ready
for a strange act of love,

the best to be picked,
implanted in their warm bed.
It’s the date my mother died.

After four weeks
my son texts ‘heartbeat!’
The moon’s full.

in Life and Other Terms
“Like a ghost, laughing” – notice how her mother crept in.
And “The stars are humble, waiting” – where did that come from?

Tin Roofs

It’s more than malaria gets in the blood
in Africa: its red-soiled, potholed towns,
jungles of car parts, sewing machines,
mended T-shirts from Leeds and Seattle,
herdsmen lean as their cows.

We were asked out as honoured guests.
In the village where we stopped on the way
for yams and cooking oil, every other roof
an advert for Omo or Blueband,
an ancestral tableau of gossiping women
gathered by the standpipe with plastic demijohns,
and far from the cities young boys
begged to be photographed.

And if we hadn’t turned up when we did
to hoik Emile’s father’s barrow up
alongside the spare fuel on the LandRover
he’d have strapped it on the next bus up the mountain
squashing someone’s mangoes
and their chickens too, probably.

If you catch it you ache in places
you didn’t know you had
but the local medics know their stuff,
and not till you’re back home,
years later maybe,
does it grip you again, the fever.

in Women Who Dye Their Hair


Men have come to fix the pebbledash,
fifty years of it, cracked and letting in the rain.
It needed doing, but it’s so noisy
and the scaffolding blocks the path.

In the damp May evening I tiptoe
to the foot of the ladder, up the poles
and onto the roof, the chimney, leap
my giant’s leap across mills and fields,
mount the TV mast (all 900 feet of it),
grasp at a passing plane, swing
over and out to the moon, the stars,
till I’m sighted by a schoolboy
at his bedroom window with a telescope,
top of the universe and climbing.

in Listening to Dancing

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