Today’s offering comes not from “the back of an envelope” but from a white paper bag, such that a 20th century shop might have used for a portion of unwrapped sweets, or for a length of tartan ribbon measured against the brass rule along the edge of the haberdashery counter.

Yes, I now recall that soon before Christmas I did enter such a shop, and bought 1½ metres of white elastic, to thread through the waist casing of a pair of pyjama bottoms. Actually two pairs, because my waist size is considerably smaller than 1½ metres, and (to mix metrics) rather smaller than 30 inches too.

So – the paper bag was on my desk (or one of my desks: I have at least three, as well as two tables that get used when the desks are pre-occupied) and I seized it in a moment when the Muse seized me. (The current thought-book was otherwise engaged.)

Here’s the transcription of that poem. An explanation would take several days, several essays at the truth – so this is all you’re getting, to be going on with.

If you already know some of my earlier poems, you can wonder at the recurring images. What might they tell me? What might you?


 grumpy old

A strange gay grumpy old man

beating thyme stems against

the earthen floor of his refuge

teaches me how at last

to love myself, to watch, to notice

the phases of the cold moon

with wonder and content;

to honour the why-chromosome

of the loom of language;

to dare beyond gender;

to see that, after all,

it is you,

             it is we

at the garden gate

welcoming me home

© Kathy McVittie 5 January 2018