*The Tribes were fourteen merchant families of Norman descent who controlled commerce in the city of Ga/way in the Middle Ages and whose descendants continued to trade in the town long after their power had passed.
Pale eyes shifting
Caught the light of restless water in the docks,
Darkened when she bent
To scrape the scoop in tea chest corners,
To gather flour in slackened sacks,
-Another ounce, another penny –
Narrowed as the needle stopped.
Late evening, purpose in her eye and chin,
She stepped through ancient Norman streets,
Ancestral pavements, quiet now,
The cobblers and the hucksters and the fish mongers
Home, counting meagre takings
In squalid attics, back upstairs rooms.
At Saint Augustine's she climbed grey limestone steps,
Entered silence beneath high vaults,
Eyes fixed on some celestial trading place,
She bartered prayers for balanced books,
Asked the saints to speculate,
To find her hard cash deals
In paint and meal and boots.
Straight talk, she looked the Virgin in the face,
No short change there,
Her prayers were totted up on Rosary beads.
Wakeful and alert at night
She lay between thin sheets,
Debts outstanding paid in Glorias,
Settled with her husband in her flesh,
Invested merchant genes for future markets,
Unimagined deals in untold streets.
Only in a dream she melted,
Spread her limbs on fine-fur pelts, on new-shorn fleece,
A softening at the sight of full sailed ships glide in to
Ancestral ensigns, hulls low,
Cargo-laden with wine and silk and spice.
More from Summer 2004
Worst Kept Secret; or, How You Finally Came To Please Boss
That first morning his obvious eyes,
and someone in the canteen
whispering as he passed: Arsehole.
But no. An arsehole at least
has some sort of definable use.
Then the years of brushing his cold paws
from your hind-quarters, while you captured
and secured the one, who each evening now hands
his testicles in at the door, and kneels
to your God of glossy, horrible things.
Today, the big man still busy
not doing whatever it is he doesnt do;
as you position
before anyone has the chance to shout
Domestos KILLS ALL KNOWN GERMS
for him in your red and black smalls, as his pants
explode across the desk, and he throws
his jockstrap to the audience,
who cheer you both
finally across that board-room floor.
More from Summer 2004