Ann Pilling

Novelist and Poet

Practising

That dent in your pillow is the book
that slipped from my fingers when I fell asleep;
you were in the next room, coughing your way through the small hours.

I am tidier on my own with my clock and my radio
my nightly pills, and I have all the bed;
if the cat comes I can sleep at a diagonal

feel it curl up behind my knees, picture its perfect oval.
I’d like a tail of my own to wrap round me,
thread under my forepaws, end at an ear.

Those in utero scans of babies show perfect enclosures
of frog-like shadows slowly firming up
to exit as homo sapiens. I’m practising going inwards.

But you can’t practise for someone you love dying.
I’m glad I’m awake, my dreams last night
were too filled with people crying

and it’s good that today is not bright,
that the house shakes under the wind.
I can practise curling up while rain bashes the glass
and the sea rules off the horizon with a steel blade.

Ann Pilling, May 2015, Spittal. Commended in the Bridport Poetry Competition 2016.

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