Sample poem from ‘Gardening with My Father’



I sat, with my friend Miranda, on the fire escape
Outside the library, and talked about the bomb.
We wondered if we would see the rockets coming over
Or if it would be quick, and we know nothing.

Because we were afraid, I told her that I loved
A girl who came from Goa in the sixth form,
Whose mother wore a sari, and who had diamonds in her ears.
Because we were afraid, Miranda said she loved her too
But I looked at her and knew that, if we lived,
She would grow out of it.

At the school dance I wore a dress.
It didn’t suit me and it didn’t fit me.
I thought I looked peculiar in it
And, probably, I did.

I got a boy who studied chemistry
And stood on my feet and didn’t notice.
I was very good at ballroom dancing
But in the class I always led another girl;
I wasn’t Ginger Rogers, and I couldn’t do it
Backwards in high heels.

Afterwards he wrote a letter to say thank you
For a lovely evening, and could we meet again?
I never answered as I couldn’t think
Of anything to say.

I looked up lesbian in the dictionary
And it said ‘of Lesbos’.
I looked up Sapphic
And it said ‘of Sappho’.
Lesbos was an island in the Aegean
Sappho was a poet who lived there.
Dictionaries are not always helpful.