Everything you told me came untrue,

Geraldine Clarkson

Everything you told me came untrue,
as if your eye at the witching hour,
when you told us bedtime stories,
was faulty on its target.

Perhaps your seer’s hands, smooth
and oiled from washing up, slipped
in their tracing of force-lines
on your crystal ball.

Maybe your too-hasty breath
flustered the tea leaves,
distorted picture portents
dredged on china.

Your prophecy that I might die
young, slipped into disuse
after you’d aired it eighteen times,
once each birthday, for bad luck.

The blade of your sibyl’s claim
that I wasn’t meant for marriage,
that lovers would recoil,
blunted (though I grasped it still).

And the old domestic curse,
that I would never write,
that words would fail to join:
the black source like treacle, stuck,

trickles freer with each poem that comes,
Mother.