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Lydia
18/F/Pennsylvania    Contemporary, modern poems for our world, right now.
Lydia
25/F/smalltown, Ohio    “She was told, of course, not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I ...
Lydia Victoria Kate
20/F/Cornwall    The simple things in life are all I need.

Poems

Terry Collett Nov 2013
Lydia's mother
sliced the bread thinly
and buttered sparingly
and handed Lydia

two limp slices
and said
get that inside you

can't have you going
everywhere
with your stomach rumbling
people'd think

you've not been fed
Lydia took the two slices
and a mug of stewed tea

but she hadn't been fed
that was why
she went and got
the rolls and bread

but she said nothing
just nodded her head
and followed her mother

into the living room
and sat at the table
her big sister
had gone to bed

her father was sleeping
off the beer
Lydia nibbled like a mouse

a thin long haired girl
of a mouse
can I go up West?
she asked

up West?
her mother repeated
as if her daughter

had sworn at her
up West?
she said again
turning the words around

in her head
to see how they fitted in best  
can I?

her daughter
asked again anxiously
you can in the sense
that it's possible

but if you mean may
as a permissibility
then no

her mother said
what?
Lydia said
uncertain where

she was
in her request
your gran always said

that the difference
between can and may
is one of possibility
over permissibility

said Lydia's mother
may I go?
Lydia asked softly

no you may not
her mother said
why not?
her daughter asked

because I said so
her mother replied
why do want to go there?

her mother asked
Benedict said
he was going there
and that he'd take me

Lydia replied
oh him
her mother said

she sat and took a bite
from her sandwich
picturing the boy
from upstairs

in the flats
with his hazel eyes
and big smile

and self assurance
about him
why does he want to go
up West?

she asked
he likes adventures
Lydia said

adventures?
her mother said
repeating the word
as if

it were unknown to her
who does he think he is
Biggles or someone

like that?
Lydia sat nibbling
frowning
holding the bread

in her thin hands
he's never mentioned Biggles
Lydia said

don't talk
with your mouth full
her mother scolded
Lydia swallowed

the bread
he's not said nothing
about no Biggles

Lydia said
well you can't go
her mother said firmly
looking at her daughter's

thin frame
and lank long hair
do you mean I mayn't?

Lydia uttered gently
I said what I mean
her mother said
and don't get mouthy

like your big sister
or you'll feel
my hand

across your backside
Lydia nibbled
and looked away
a train steamed crossed

the railway bridge
leaving grey white smoke
behind it

lingering there
unsettling the air
her mother muttered words
but Lydia didn't listen

she watched clouds
cross the sky darkly
carrying a storm

or rain
she liked her backside
as it was
she didn't want

no pain
she'd not ask
again.
A YOUNG GIRL IN LONDON IN 1950S AND HER MOTHER.
Terry Collett Mar 2016
Edinburgh? You want to go
get a train to Edinburgh?
Lydia's dad says. Not now,
when I'm older, Lydia says,

looking at her father's steely
eyes, sober, smile lingering.
On your own? He asks, gazing
at her, taking in her skinny

frame, arms, legs and long
straight hair. No, with Benny,
she says, we went to Kings
Cross Station saw the train

that goes to Edinburgh station.
Whose idea was that? He asks,
Benny boy's? No we both had
the idea, she says, wishing

Benny was there as he would
know what to say. Long way
to Edinburgh, her father says,
picking up his cup of tea at the

breakfast table. 6 hours the porter
man said when Benny asked him,
Lydia says. Her father sips his tea.
Lydia waits. So can I go? She asks

her dad. He looks at her. When
you're older maybe. Well, got to
go to work, he says, gets up, pats
her head, says see you, Lydia.

Lydia watches him go, hears the
door shut. Her mother comes in
with a cigarette hanging from her
lips, her hair in rollers. What you

doing? She asks Lydia. Going to
Edinburgh with Benny, Lydia says.
Her mother stares at her and shakes
her head. Well make sure you pack

your clothes and empty your piggy-
bank, her mother says and walks off
back to the kitchen. Lydia frowns,
gets her piggy-bank and shakes it.

It sounds empty, except for a few
coins rattling. Can I go out with
Benny? She calls out to her mother.
She puts down her pink piggy-bank.

She walks into the kitchen where her
mother is washing up. Can I? She asks
her mother. Can you what? Go out
with Benny? Again? You only saw

him yesterday? Her mother says through
a mouthful of cigarette smoke. Need
to see him about Edinburgh, Lydia says.
What about Edinburgh? Her mother

says her words clouded in smoke. Dad
said I can go to Edinburgh with Benny,
Lydia says anxiously. Did he now, well
he can **** well pay for it can't he, her

mother says, well off you go then, and
don't be too late, need you to help me
sort out the washing later, I don't suppose
your big **** of a sister will shift her

backside out of bed before noon. Lydia
bites her lip. Watches her mother doing
the dishes. Ok won't be late, Lydia says,
walking out of the kitchen, along the hall,

out of the front door, stares out at the Square,
wondering if Benny is about out there.
A GIRL AND HER PARENTS AND A TRAIN RIDE TO EDINBURGH IN 1958.