• Lucy Dougan

Finding Thomas Browne (1540-1597)


For Rose


We spend a lot of time

with the dead until

they do our heads in.

In Dulwich Hill

I catch you in the frame

beneath the legend

This is Eden.

You stand firm,

an uncompromising Eve

fast by the old grandstand.

Everything about your stance,

your shape, your smile

brings comfort even though

or perhaps because we find

our ancestors are political thugs.

No surprises there

but somewhere is our castle

with its youtube processions

of weeds we cannot name,

ghostly dogs

and solstice fires.

The youngest,

we have always been conspirators.

These battlements are mighty

familiar. We cannot fail.




The Monkey Face Bag


I buy the bag with the monkey face
from the girl with the faltering hands
and the slow, deliberate voice.
We agree it’s a good price.
It just came in today.
The monkey has a large mouth
as if he had opened it wide
and found nothing to say.
She tells me that she likes the monkey brand.
It’s a gift for my niece
I explain as I pay.
It’s one for surfies. Does she surf?
I picture my niece, her neat shape,
hovering above us on a wave.
I shake my head hesitantly,
driving other customers away.
I think our chat is done
then she tells me
once she had pyjamas
with the monkey face
that were too tight.
As she struggles with the change
I ask the price of a wooden ornament
until she gets it right.

The bag with the monkey face
swallows the day.
I ride the swell of a headache,
swap texts with my sister,
we are both OK.
My niece used to like the monkey brand
but my sister is not sure now.
So I put it high in the cupboard
with other things that do not fit.
Stretching up into the dark
I find the girl from the shop
freed from her endless transactions,
curled asleep beneath a sea of monkeys;
each surprised mouth
stretched out of sameness
by her difference.