Two Poems by Carolyn Oulton

Women in Kent

You’d like to see again
a country lane and sheep
beyond this well-fenced garden.

You’d like them to take you.
I wonder if they do
on the days you’ve forgotten.

My skin curdles in the heat,
hair pulling on my neck
like toffee on an apple.

From here I can see
the muscles of cows
rise and dip,

paddle a way through
a hundred grasses,
catch the points of holly

as butterfly wings
hold a current and plunge
into purple and yellow.

Now it’s raining
in a well-lit room
in a village nearby.

And you have to decide.
Between food and shelter.
Now. Which queue to be in.

Later you will make tea
for local cricket teams,
have words about the dog next door.

But you will remember
always, the sound of the siren,
the darkness of those walls.

Guide to Folkestone 1914-15

From the careful collection
of measurements of rain
(last year’s rain) we’re working
six months in advance.
It is not yet the thing
to bring one’s own sugar
to tea parties. Dora waits
on the open shelf by the window.
This comes from the box
of ‘Guides year to year: incomplete’,
while out at the back
The Victoria Pier and Other Attractions
is coming unglued at the spine.
The librarian makes me wait because
someone’s reading. I like this enough
to keep – I can’t get a book from the room
at the back, he’s reading in there.
So I go for the box
of illustrated leaflets on the town.
1914 the pavilion on the Leas
will cater for croquet, lawn tennis and gym;
bathers will not be incommoded by sand
– because there isn’t much. And as for rain,
at any rate it never lasts all day.


Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her poetry has appeared in: Acumen, Orbis, The Frogmore Papers, Seventh Quarry, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Envoi, New Walk, Artemis and Upstreet. Her most recent collection Accidental Fruit is published by Worple Press.

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