I balance my golden tiara with the poise
of a Brocas woman carrying Irish linen
in a basket on her head. I have practiced
for days, pinned the shiny fabric of my dress
at the sides to prevent me from tripping,
pinked my cheeks until they sting
and the pores have opened like mouths
of small flowers where, night after night,
I have rubbed them and made them drink
a bar and a half of Carbolic Soap.
Oh, there you are, she says and I wait
for her to call me, Orlaith, beautiful.
But she snorts and says, you a princess? As if.
In the garden, I lean over the pond
and strain to see my reflection, as seepage
from the rubbish tip next door coats the water
from rim to centre, in glistening greige
that wobbles with the impact of my tiara
as it slips from my head. But a familiar voice
croaks, Princess, Princess, forget your tiara,
forget your mother. I will call you pretty
every day if you let me lay down with you
between your little silken sheets.
Elisabeth Sennitt Clough‘s poetic influences include Michael Ondaatje and Gary Soto. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Stand,The Rialto and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She has won prizes in several UK competitions, to include the most recent Cannon Sonnet or Not Competition. She now lives in Norfolk with her husband and three children, but spent many years living and working in places as diverse as Maastricht, Reykjavik, Jakarta, California and Florida. www.elisabethsennittclough.co.uk