She looks at her hands for long stretches of time.
They keep her amused and content.
She pays little heed to the clock's hourly chime.
It's something to do during Lent.
They're like naked puppets, unable to hide,
There to be spied on by others,
A wedding night film of a groom and a bride
That's seen by their fathers and mothers.
She thinks that the future is there in a palm
Because it will show you the past,
Revealing a life of immense peace and calm,
Or a life of suspense lived too fast.
And she thinks the past is a trustworthy guide
To show what the future will hold.
It's nearly as sure as the change of the tide.
In past acts the future is told.
She made two glove puppets to clothe her bare hands,
Her right hand resplendent in white,
A grand bridal gown. The left understands
That she always favours the right.
The left hand's the groom. Jilly's right-handed.
Both hands are close to her heart.
Without the left groom the right bride would feel stranded.
They're rarely an arm's length apart.
If past acts can outline her future life's course,
Her boyfriend's inaction's a worry.
He can be silent for hours till he's hoarse.
To marry her he's in no hurry.
For ten years she's waited for him to propose.
On sporting fields he'll shout and curse.
He's like a great river when flood water flows.
With her he's a glacier or worse.
She needs to take matters into her hands.
She uses the bride and groom puppets.
The groom puppet looks quite content as it stands
Despite the fact her hand is up its
Newly-washed trousers. It's dressed to the nines.
The puppets act out a short play
In front of her boyfriend. He should see the signs
And ask the big question today.
The groom asks the bride if she'll do him the honour
Of taking his hand in marriage.
Without her he'd wither. He'd soon be a gonner.
He'll be a strong horse for her carriage.
The bride says she will and the two puppets kiss.
Jilly expresses her joy.
She says that their love will create wedded bliss
And a glove puppet girl or a boy.
Her boyfriend is briefly dumbfounded by that.
He pauses before he says this:
"Can my brother Anthony borrow your cat?"
Her answer won't trigger a kiss.
Her right hand is desperate to injure his head.
She tries very hard to restrain it.
She lets it attack the poor left hand instead.
Her boyfriend thinks he can explain it.
He thinks that she's ruling the cat idea out.
His question has just fallen flat.
It's bad for his brother, of this there's no doubt,
But it's certainly good for the cat.
To Derek it seemed much too quiet in the park.
Even the dogs were refusing to bark.
He walked quickly on through the shadows of trees.
The gaze of the crows and the sound of the breeze
Added a sense of unease to the place
And painted a faint trace of fear on his face.
He wondered how long this spring day would stay dry.
The clouds were clowning around in the sky,
Chasing each other like dogs without leads
Who run through suburban estates, where their deeds
Are often observed and recorded in song
By bedroom-bound teens who will secretly long
To run with the dogs as they chase diamond thieves,
With helpful advice from a butler called Jeeves.
The clouds found a suitable land for their rain,
Like dogs finding lamp posts, a massive Great Dane
Of a cloud brought a downpour that made people hide.
They pulled up their hoods or sought shelter inside.
Derek went into an old antiques shop
And brought some rain water. A bucket and mop
Were needed to clear up the pool on the floor,
On a bare patch of carpet inside the front door.
This dark shop was full of antiques and old junk.
An ungainly bull or an off-balance drunk
Couldn't help breaking old tea cups and saucers
And fine china plates with minute scenes from Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales, or from Shakespeare's Macbeth,
Or colourful scenes that depict the black death.
A stuffed bird's glass eye cast a sorrowful gaze
Over the shop and its intricate maze
Of paths between cabinets, sideboards and tables,
Owned by eye-witnesses to Aesop's fables.
Prints, maps and paintings adorned the shop's walls,
Portraits that once hung in vast stately halls.
For Derek the shop seemed more like a museum.
He wondered if some of these objects could see him.
Each time he looked at the portraits the eyes
Were staring at him. To his surprise
He saw two real eyes in the dark, like two stars.
They stunned him like headlights of oncoming cars
On poor helpless rabbits on roads late at night.
A woman emerged from the dark to the light.
She looked about eighty. She smiled and said, "Welcome."
She asked if he'd like to see teapots from Belgium.
Before he could answer she took him to see
The Belgian teapots and a skeleton key,
A stuffed Persian cat and an owl that were owned
By a woman who had been convinced she had cloned
Her favourite pet cat and a mouse it had caught,
But as it eventually transpired, she had not.
Derek was shown many vases and paintings.
He listened to her as she tried to explain things
About what to look for in buying antiques.
Cracks will de-value a vase and cause leaks.
She showed him a small silver egg cup and said,
"The owner of this used to take it to bed.
"He kept the egg cup in his pocket by day.
Close to his heart it was destined to stay.
It brought him good luck till the day that he died.
His sad sudden death came about when he tried
"To re-wire a doorbell to make the sound louder.
His ill-judged experiment involved some gunpowder.
For decades before his spectacular death
He wasn't familiar with losing a bet,
"And he became very successful with women.
They used to think he was as sour as a lemon.
When he had the egg cup they saw he had class,
Like a slice of lemon with ice in a glass."
He wanted to leave so he said he would buy
The old silver egg cup. This brought her great joy.
He paid twenty euros. She told him he'd made
A well-informed purchase -- he's sharp as a blade.
When he left the shop, the rain clouds had cleared.
The clouds in the sky were like Santa's white beard,
Or poodles who raced right across the blue sky.
Santa could bet on the outcome up high.
Derek thought he might just get his cash back.
The egg cup's good luck could be tried at the track.
He bet on a dog who was fifty-to-one,
Who stared at spectators when they shouted 'Run!'.
He gave the egg cup to his sister, who thought
That this was the best birthday present he'd bought.
She was intrigued by this silver antique.
She sold it for ten-thousand euros last week.
They met by the sea. They looked at their hands.
They whistled a tune and exchanged wedding bands.
They lived in a house with a mouse and a cat.
She wore the trousers. He wore a hat.
She managed to make him wear trousers as well.
She caused a distraction each time they fell.
Sometimes she sang and sometimes she danced.
No one would notice that he'd been de-pantsed
When she sang her song about cheating at tennis,
Abusing the umpire and blaming the Guinness.
He sings in a choir. He has a deep voice.
He frequently gives people goose bumps and lice.
He is a hopeless romantic at heart.
He once took a week to construct a pie chart.
It shows the importance of things in his life.
The biggest slice of the pie is his wife.
The next biggest slice is his interest in birds.
His wife's slice is fractionally short of two thirds,
And birds are one eighth. Swearing's a tenth,
But this slice is always removed during Lent.
He tries not to swear, but sometimes he'll fail.
He'll try to suppress it or write it in Braille.
There are occasions when he can't keep in
His favourite swear words. His bad language bin
Is emptied at somebody's feet and it stinks.
Michelle remains as unmoved as the Sphinx.
She won't shout or swear. She'll always stay calm.
Her warm, gentle smile will provide a good balm
To ease any anger. She radiates peace.
She can turn fights into light scenes from Grease.
When gangs face each other, exuding pure venom,
Clad in black leather and hair gel and denim,
Michelle arrives and she stands in between,
And they start their singing and dancing routine.
She never loses her temper and swears,
Or even expresses her anger in glares.
She smiled with good grace when an ex boyfriend said
That somehow or other he'd woken in bed
With a good-looking woman he'd met in a bar,
But she put an incontinent dog in his car.
Dave is proud of his bronze tan,
His golden hair and his silver van.
It carries him from place to place.
He keeps it cleaner than his face.
His chat-up lines make women weak,
So much so they cannot speak,
But they can puke. Dave says 'cheers'.
Their eyes can leak a lot of tears
That leave mascara stains on cheeks.
If they had stayed awake for weeks
They couldn't look as bad as this.
They feel the opposite of bliss.
Instinct helps them find the bar.
They couldn't tell you where they are.
They only know they hate this place.
With lipstick smeared across their face,
This completes the sad clown look.
Their plans to write a childrens' book
Start to seem like pointless dreams.
All ambitions, plans and schemes
Appear as just a waste of time.
They'll always be a clown or mime,
Acting out life's main events
Within the confines of a fence,
A fence that only they can see.
They'll never feel remotely free.
Their eyes are pools of deep despair.
They'll find a biscuit in their hair.
The more Dave talks, the more they cry.
Their well of tears will not run dry.
Their face illuminates their plight,
And Dave thinks 'It's my lucky night'.