City Dweller

I am bad at being on holiday

Perhaps it’s the lack of purpose

At home, at work, I have routine

Things to achieve, means of measuring

The worth of my own time and how

I have chosen to spend it.  Here?

Not so much.  I measure the days

In bug bites, crumbs, accumulating

From unhealthy breakfasts in odd corners.

By gas miles trying to locate a bin

That takes mixed recycling.

I am stumped by the lack of a

Sewing needle to mend favourite

Shirts and skirts torn by errant handles

On rented bathroom doors

Skilled fingers itch in their impotence

Requiring a shopping trip – my own

Personal hell – to a mall where

Every single security gate is triggered

By my keys, the zipper on my purse,

Or some such similar nonsense.

I am forced to empty my pockets

Try to explain in broken sentences

Of a language I do not pretend to speak

While you accompany our child

Whose toilet training seems to err

In the climate, to a gendered bathroom

With me staring down a twenty-something

Minimum wager with an axe to grind

On a Thursday afternoon.

Nothing to find – too bad!

Better luck catching the

Next middle-aged mom

Who may feel some sort of

Vicarious thrill swiping fifty cent

Plastic merchandise – none of which

Can easily be concealed

In a purse or a pocket.

I hate holidays.  This kind of crap

Doesn’t find me at home.

In an environment that I can

Kid myself remains

Within my control.

I sweat, try not to scratch

At my bites, my sunburn,

Recall I had to borrow

Your deodorant

As mine had failed

To cope with the local temperatures.

We keep being promised rain.

But such a luxury

Fails to materialise.

Night after sleepless night

Trying to ignore the free concert

The rooster and pack of dogs that feel

Some need to duet at the crack of dawn.

My eye twitching at the

Unwelcome whine of a mosquito

Hovering in the tepid darkness

Waiting to feed on this

Overheated foreign delicacy

Reaching for pharmaceutical reassurance

That the never-ending irritation

Will have an expiry date.

Schneider

We had nothing but rags
Bags of old costumes
Piled in the corner
Of a dusty room
Discarded scraps
Of forgotten dreams
So I taught myself to sew
Building a tapestry
Of my patchwork life
Knees folded on the
Chilly bathroom floor
Its cracked blue lino
Like ocean waves
The tattered curtain
Tucked up over the rail
Learning to navigate
By feel and intuition
As I frowned
Squinting at my needle
Trying to get the thread
Through a tiny hole
In the mushroom-coloured dusk
At the awkward age
Of thirteen years and one month
I wore them out
My colourful creations
And people stared
Admiring and mocking
In equal amounts
When I grew
Good enough
That you could see
Design in my skilful
Manipulation
Of throw-away stuffs
I sold some
For coin, or bartered favours
Tailors can be born
And they can be made
I took commissions
If you could describe it
The perfect dress
I could draw it in my head
Then threading your dream
Through my careful fingers
Seam by seam
I could make it
Come alive

My Big Toe

Last time I stayed in hospital
I felt like such a fraud
It never would have happened
If I’d not been feeling bored

I took out my best needles
To try to string some beads
But dropped the thread under the bed
And crawling on my knees

Wasted almost half an hour
In a wholly futile search
To find the reel with only feel
Was never going to work

But giving up too hastily
In retrospect was worse
I shuffled back and heard a crack
Then hopped to muffled curse

For I’d stood upon the cushion
In which I kept my pins
The x-ray showed my poor big toe
Joint skewered, for my sins

They pulled it out with pliers
Having made my foot go numb
I hope that was the last time
I do something quite so dumb