A cow chomping grass outside the window
left open all night even the coldest. Fresh air
she said, brushing hers in the full-length mirror.
Her hair was shiny and probably still is.
As she brushed it got shinier. Where
would you rather be, she asked. I had no idea.
She assumed this was to do with happiness
but it wasn’t, I just had no idea. By that time
there were two cows, you could hear their huffing
as well as grass tearing. They seemed hungry
but not desperate. I can’t imagine a desperate cow.
Maybe that’s a failure of nerve, she said,
turning towards me, for the son
at that moment had entered the room.
He had her eyes and was towelling his hair
tall and moist from the shower.
10 Easy Pieces for Piano
Everyone watches the child walk
through security and spread out her arms.
Today she’ll fly. You can always tell an Italian.
The Cuban landlady sings: ‘when you’ve had black
there’s no going back.’
Her Slovakian cleaner has no papers.
We have an appointment, remember?
My hearing went and my head exploded I’ve never had that before.
Remember Klaus? He sent a postcard: hey British how you doing.
We missed the headlines on that day:
man with backpack on CCTV.
In Hintersee Gasthof the framed cartoon
the king, the farmer, the bishop, the worker
and top of the pyramid the man in black:
‘Der Jude - er nimmt das Geld’.
Where does the roof end and the wall start?
She said she found herself joining in
throwing flowers at Hitler. When he’d gone
she rushed into church, feeling
she’d slept with someone she shouldn’t have.
Anna went to collect her rabbit
‘that’s not my rabbit’ she said.
He held it by the ears, back legs spread-eagled
and put his hand around its balls.
This is my second favourite café in Vienna.
Fried egg on toast, tea and chocolate biscuits
and a letter from a friend...
I don’t know whether we had a good Christmas
but if I write about it I’ll find out.
Today I drew a horse, a Chinese horse
in mid-gallop. Best thing I’ve done all week.
A complete accident
like the chocolate biscuits, a bit of shading
or a line or two here and there
makes all the difference.
You go so far
then do something else, and suddenly
here’s life in it.
Cliff Yates is the author of Henry's Clock (winner of the Aldeburgh first collection prize and the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition). A new collection, Frank Freeman's Dancing School is forthcoming from Salt.