The Poetry Kit MAGAZINE


Response Poems


Visits to Grandma

by Lesley Burt


Her doorstep greeting – sharp

as pebbledash

that grazed my elbows in the porch –

always, ‘What do you want?’

I never knew the answer.


Once, I was invited onto her lap  

beside the fire that had toasted her shins

to scaly snakeskin;

her tweed skirt prickled my legs

like coconut matting.


She feared dustmen were spies,

stacked rubbish in the kitchen;

pointed a knobbly finger at mice

that scurried among jars and peelings;  

scrubbed and scrubbed her hands

under the hot tap;


began to substitute

morning milky coffee,

afternoon tea and Kit-Kat,

with sherry and aspirin.

Her hair knotted itself into a nest.


I read pencilled notes

in margins of her ‘Deserted Village’,

unable to link the teacher who wrote them

with this odd creature.


At the end, my mother mourns

the woman who used to bake, crochet,

run ILP campaigns,

love anemones and strawberries.

I weep for my mother’s loss.






by Irene Hossack


Your mother was as strange to me as her name.

A small old lady, black hair pulled back in a tight bun,

who gave me a shiny black jewel box with a ballerina

dancing to the tune of music box dancer inside.


My mother watched me take it from her as we sat

together in a strange, brown, Glasgow tenement.

Her gentle little hands, which had once saved you

from drowning in the burn, showed me the key


to making the ballerina dance. I recognised her

gypsy eyes, they belonged to you and me, our

shared genetic inheritance, rarely mentioned

but through whispered stories in your absence.


Her voluntary estrangement formed you and me,

the lingering suspicion of the cruelty of women

precluded us. The small trace of her presence in our lives

seen in the dance of the music box ballerina.