Sweetheart, may you be full as an egg, wholesome as bread,
wise as salt and straight as a matchstick.
Mother you would weep if you could see me
pending hip replacements, the pathos of my hump,
my poor cow vision — one pink eye one green,
my back a huge red fireball, a dipping sun
on the horizon. That life is short I no longer regret;
it’s how the body takes its transformations.
Every fool is maimed. I follow
my natural bends — challenge through squares
of the same colour. Hide beneath my campanulate hat,
blazon my white bobbed tail. A hop-along Cassidy cowboy,
I am more than my art. Such is the plight
of the troubadour, and I scuff their hearts.
The French call our Bishop, le Fou du roi, or Bouffon — a Fool
From Old French roc(k) or the Arab rukk
(original sense uncertain.)
A crock and certainly
uncertain, a peripatetic crumble,
age-encrusted and baroque. No oblique shifts
or diagonal vision. From home, in the corner
I, a ragged man, limp past, scratching snails
at the foot of a withered hedge.
Teal and goldeneye fly quacking overhead,
frogs and toads sing in the marshland.
A road of shifting sand lost
in fields of salicornia and whitish salt-flats
is lined by tamarisk covered
with pink blossom.
“Fool” and “Rook” come from a sequence based on Chessmen, the last work of the artist Germaine Richier, (1902-59). These two poems were published in Poetry Review Vol. 94/4 Winter 2004/5.
Sally Festing lives in Manningtree, on the Harwich estuary, where she runs a Poetry Society Stanza group, and in North Norfolk After ten years of journalism, she published five non-fiction books, two of which, art biographies, went into Penguin paperback. Since 2000, she’s written extensively in poetry magazines and had radio 4 plays based on poem sequences. A second chapbook is coming out 2008/9 with Happenstance Press.