'Allingham at Abney Park' by Cath Kenneally | States of Poetry SA - Series Two

Fed Wendy’s cat, walked to Broadway
Market through London Fields

a month from now these will be
once again names to conjure with

jump on a 236
Newington Green
lured by the memory
of Belle Epoque patisserie
glowing golden in a corner

always misremembered

as Raisin D’Etre

My fellow-travellers clearly
locals despite farflung origins
even on my ninth visit
I’m a day-lily among annuals

When I’m seated at my table
the escargot pastry is perfect
the coffee not

c’est la vie

 

From Wendy’s bookshelf
I’ve taken Death of a Ghost
Margery Allingham
best-loved Dame of Crime

died a year younger
than my present age

so many books!
beneath an unflattering
photo, her Green Penguin blurb
‘In my family, it would have
seemed strange not to write’

yet I know no other Allingham

 

my internal satnav (not the Epoque
vendeuse’s doubtful directions) tells me

Church Street is nearby
Abney Park cemetery therefore
in walking distance, a favorite for

the unchecked frivolity
of its riot of nameless
creepers and saplings

gobbling tumbled memorials
rampaging madly on

 

my lately-penned Will specifies
eco-burial, probably in a polite park

 

better this rampant decay under
thrusting, immodest new growth
the Victorian way

 

en route to last things, I detour
via penultimate ones

a light-filled ex-factory
scuffed wooden floors
raised platform at the back
sparse, select items dangling at intervals
and in the wide window

a light-as-air linen swingcoat
faintest oyster blue-grey
made for a small man my size
not too many pounds asked,

enthuse with the attendant
who seems as charmed as I
by the garment, as perhaps she is
leave empty-handed

 

In the cemetery I peer through a screen of oak leaves
squint at the flat Yuri had, with Teresa the mad landlady
a few years back, overlooking this tangle of rubble
deepest green shade

 

the passage of years
sickeningly vertiginous
when it’s your childrens’ years
you’re reckoning, let alone
amongst tombstones

 

outside Epoque earlier,
two girl cyclists hugged goodbye

stalwart in Birkenstocks,
tortoise-shelled by Freitag backpacks
full of calm and poise
grounded as I wasn’t

I thought of my reading at their age
how I longed for each new
Drabble, bound to be bursting
with important

tips for living my modern life

all forgotten

Margaret is coming
to Writers Week, I’m reading
her new books, elderly heroes
all passion spent

 

Margery’s spectral tale from 1934,
in my backpack, is a painter’s story
Lafcardio, RA
Royal Academician

my ghosts today are clamorous
not unfriendly