Three poems by Cassandra Atherton

The Blue Hour

Blue twilight unfurls its splendour, a Didionesque gloaming for the lonely. I try to catch its tint in my cup, to taste its calm, but its inkiness spills over me until I am glass. Bathed in owl-light, I float on short blue wavelengths. I cannot be broken.

Uses for Poetry II

Nothing annoys me more than the way you put all the poems in the sink after dinner. I prefer to wash them one at a time, but you pile them up and I can hear them clinking against one another, chipping and cracking. You start scrubbing away at the sticky bits in the corners, holding each one up to the light, shaking your head and then dipping it back in the water. I could tell you that you that no amount of scrubbing with a steel wool scourer is going to help, but I’ll let you work it out yourself. Much later, I take the poems out of the draining rack and polish them with a tea towel. They squeak when they are dry and I pile them up in the cupboard for tomorrow.


You come from a family of boys. I come from no family at all. My great-grandmother was born with holes in her earlobes. Romany. Gypsy. A caravan child. I remember my childhood of Russian Caravan Tea, all lapsang souchong-y. You think Gypsy means Gypsy Rose Lee and regale me with stories of her speaking at Union Meetings. I wait for the striptease. We run away to Coney Island. I thought it would be all yellow neon ice-cream cones before we take the D train to Brooklyn. But my dreams short circuit. There is no Copacabana or Tropicana. No birthday cakes like the ones I dreamt about in the Women’s Weekly cookbook. Coney Island is Nathan’s famous hotdogs not Rapunzel’s tower made of inverted cones covered in cream. You take me to the boardwalk but never under it. I take you to the sideshow where the bearded lady reads your tea leaves and points out the long plait curling itself around the rim of your cup.

Photo: Abandoned Ice Cream Cone by teakwood