Two poems from Ramona Herdman’s new poetry collection, Glut, published in August 2022 by Nine Arches Press.
I have failed to convey to you why
I hate it so much. You laugh.
There’s something obscene in plastic things –
that the dinosaurs died, prehistoric forests
went to mush, the whole world boiled down
to an abscess of oil underground and
the present world ripped apart to get it out.
Roads stampede through the woods,
nothing untrodden, most of it landfill
within a couple of decades, and still
the churning factories. You stand there,
turning it, tiny prim plastic wheels biting on
nothing, the world mumbled down in its gums
to get us dry lettuce. I do nothing about any of it.
It makes me want to spit when you take
the rinsed leaves from me, stand with it
under one arm like a mandolin, whirring. Worst
is that I suspect I don’t even think this:
it’s all wholesale from my mother,
dirty hippy, proud as a filthy old aristocrat.
This is something to do with her life thirty years ago.
I am too good for you. As you make my dinner
I blame you for everything I haven’t done
since I was twenty. Stop being so considerate
with your damn salad. Let me out of this lovely
Victorian semi on the right side of town, mortgage
practically paid off, convenient for the theatre.
Let me eat pesticides. Let me eat mud.
The car after the car
that I learnt to drive in (my instructor’s Golf)
was a cast-off from a builder housemate.
Dear faded green estate, cement-dust-sparkling.
It meant we could go between houses, if one of us
forgot something from home of an evening.
This was after the days I’d called him Toothbrush Boy
to my work-friends, determined, though I’d let him
leave his toothbrush, we were Not A Couple.
Time was slower then. The estate a tabernacle
of wood-splinters. Mossy window-seals. Rust-nibbles.
It lasted years, then we traded it in
for an Escort when we needed something sensible
to manage the motorway trips the year my dad
was dying of cancer. A car that did the job.
How clean and whole the Escort looked beside
my dad’s Skoda Superb the day we opened it up
to find it like a salt mine – the insides coated
in flakes of fag-ash like opals. Ash-plush
grey seats. White glints. Silver. Ash powdering
the genital leatherette folds round the gear stick.
Ashy footwells and ceiling. Everything ashed except
the clear shadow on the driver’s seat. Ash stirring
in the air from the opened door – like the shiver
of the pale undersides of leaves, or the shudder
through a grey huddle of bats, about to fly.
‘Salad spinner’ was previously published in A warm and snouting thing (The Emma Press).