by Helen Burke
She falls into my room,
so I fell into conversation with her (it was easy).
She was drinking water upside-down.
Here’s a nice kettle of fish, I thought.
“Don’t take the medication,” she said.
“Especially not the little green pills.”
She says she doesn’t need them. None of them – just cause
everything is falling. Her life, her tits, her bank-balance.
That’s how it starts she says –
your husband stops visiting, your kids lives turn to dust
and your food becomes a fire-engine.
Oh, they mash it up all right, but it’s still on fire when it goes
down your throat.
That and the goldfish they make you wear.
Stay alert, she warns me as she falls
into the jug of water left, (oh so carefully) for both of us.
Helen Burke has been writing and publishing poems for 25 years. She has just won the Sheffield Festival PoetStars Prize and second prize in Ilkley Lit. Fest performance, which she has won on two previous occasions. She had a show at the Edinburgh Festival this year which had a highly starred rating by the Scotsman. She has just completed an M.A. in Literature Studies at St. John’s University in York.