I couldn’t hear myself think when the storm came over
and the roof became a giant drum.
Thunder rocked the house. Capricious lightning
reached a finger into my computer, knocked out the modem
and set the date back to 1956.

With a high tension flash, coming round the corner
the poles come off the wires and the trolleybus
stops in City Road like a questing insect.
The driver jumps out to relocate the pulley,
the boys stare out the back window.

Penny down the hill and tuppence up, in 1956
I’m clear as the mark of a sharp-to-cracking-point
Black Beauty on a clean page.
Cotton socks and schoolbag, with my new glasses
I can see every leaf on the tree.

Were I to live my life again, I’d have to live it just the same
anyhow, to be here and now abandoning the keyboard,
turning the whole show off for fear of electrocution
and going to the kitchen to make battered oysters
in a thunderstorm, retrieving my train of thought –

pull just one string and the whole caboodle unravels.

from Soundings: poems and drawings (Otago University Press, 2002), © Cilla McQueen 2002, used by permission of the author and the publishers. Recording from a private recording: Cilla McQeen reads from Fire-Penny and Soundings (2011).

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