Poetry by Maureen Wilkinson


This poem is included in my collection THE BLINDMAN GOES FROM A TO B published by Peterloo Poets. A signed copy may be PURCHASED HERE...


Aged two, I overheard an aunt remark
it curious that we should look alike
though my hair was so blonde, and yours so dark.
I'd only thought you older, until then.
This insight prompted me to scrutinize
our cut-off colours drifting to the floor,
when we sat mirror-trapped on swivel chairs,
in that barbaric shop in Peckham Rye.
Till you were seven we both wore the same
centre-parted bobs with ribbon bows
on top like silken ears.  About that time
I chanced to have a grim prophetic dream
in which we were both adults and both wore
our long hair hanging loose, yours dark, mine light,
the way that we had grown it when you died.
But sticking to the facts;
our school–days passed unmemorably  coiffured as
short or plaits.  We seem to grow into allotted roles
like star-struck sisters from a fairy tale.
Perhaps the sobriety of your dark brows
gave you your air of rational good sense,
while I had only insubstantial light
like gossamer above a weighted seed.
As teenagers we both flirted with fashion,
and practiced flick-up, bouffants and the like.
You soon cast off these trivial pursuits
to join the Red Cross.  I discovered sex.
Later as students we both grew our hair.
You started nursing and I studied Art.
You pinned your long hair up in a sleek bun.
I left mine hanging loose.  I married young
and had two babies during my degree,
while you went on to pass midwifery.
You died in an air crash at twenty-four.
Our distraught Mother, clearing out your things
piled in my arms your clothes, your shoes, your books,
your half-made knitting which she couldn't bear
to keep or finish.
But somehow didn't see you'd left behind
a plastic hair brush strung with your dark hairs,
pliant and strong and shining, as in life,
still perfumed with the lacquer that you wore.

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