14. The Found Poem: Read a book and circle some words on a page. Use those words to craft a poem. Alternatively you can cut out words and phrases from magazines.
So, the words are: weddings, christenings, town, widows, lock, skin, crawling. Every time I try to write a poem in this challenge it just ends up being prose, so I decided to just let it be and not force it :). Words taken from Local Girls by Alice Hoffman.
They walk through the town, heads held high. They live in their widows weeds, masks of mourning still donned dutifully. “I still pray for Desmond’s soul every night” Mrs Carbunckle always informs us at weddings and christenings. Desmond has been dead for thirty-six years.I’m not sure what prayer his soul could need.
They clasp each other as they walk, like a huge black crab, crawling along the sidewalk. Those weeds billow out in the wind, casting the illusion that these women are so much bigger than they really are, the shapeless dresses and cloaks always the perfect deterrent to any male glances that might be flung at them. Mrs Carbunckle thinks this right, you can tell. Any man who even dreamt of paying her anything more than a respectful compliment would feel the full force of her disdain. As she likes to say she is married.
Mrs Dentin is different, though. I think. Much younger than Mrs Carbunckle, she is only recently widowed. Mark Dentin met her on holiday in California, they had a whirlwind romance, and two weeks later he brought her here, announcing their engagement. Many eyebrows were raised, not in the least one very bushy pair, belonging to Mrs Carbunckle herself. Many of the older women had Mark in mind for their own daughters. He was cheery and affable, dark and handsome, with one of those smiles where even the coldest of the cold find themselves smiling back. And he had a good business, his little DIY shop on the corner of the high street. But then Mrs Dentin had come along, Miss James as she was then (though she told everyone to call her Flora). She stole Mark right from under their noses.You couldn’t blame him though. She was beautiful.
They all went to the wedding though, of course. Scrunched up noses under big hats, primly adjusting their skirts, eyeing the flower arrangements critically. “A whirlwind romance,” they muttered. “It’ll never last.” But they seemed genuinely happy, the two of them. Mark with that huge, sunshine grin, she radiant in her dress. Properly happy, in a settled kind of way, not a throwaway teenage sort of happiness. But then the crash had happened. Mark driving to visit his brother in Seattle, Flora deciding to stay home last minute. A dark night and an exhausted lorry driver.
Flora was of course devastated. She and Mark had only been married for two months. And now she was stuck in this strange town, all alone. The women all had a huge change of heart. The usurper in their midst was now Poor Flora, poor dear. They flocked to the house she and Mark had shared, armed with casseroles and muffins, all deep sighs and sympathetic pats on the shoulder. But none of them did it with quite as much aplomb as Mrs Carbunckle. She took Flora under her wing, instructing her in the ways of widowhood. The two quickly became inseparable, Mrs Carbunckle always looming whenever someone unsuitable (i.e young and male) spoke to Flora.
She turns to look at me now, those fearsome bushy eyebrows lifting. I had forgotten how long I had been watching them. Flora, or should I say Mrs Dentin, though, looks pleased. Is that a small smile I see winking there? I tip my hat to them and get in my truck. As I drive them away I watch them in my rearview mirror. I can’t get Flora out of my head all day. I think about how it must feel, having her body locked away under all that heavy black cloth. Does she miss the feel of another’s skin against hers? When was the last time she was touched, really touched? Something other than the sympathetic hand clasp of the vicar, or the brusque pull of Mrs Carbunckle on her arm.
Is three years long enough for a widow to start dating again? I decide that it is. Now, how to get rid of Mrs Carbunckle…
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