the female etcetera – Pippa Little

the female etcetera

the woman in the wire dress
the fruit gum shoes
climbs the gallery stairs
emigrant in her life
surrounded by absent children, husbands
and versions of herself
no cloud of glory
just an unceasing buzzing of white noise
emotional tinnitus

I am nearly used to it she tells herself

the gallery is cold and pale
the uniformed men seem bored
she walks a centimetre or two above the ground
not enough for anyone to notice
she is 70 % water 30% rage
the art has suffered cracks in the emulsion
rather as her children’s paintings curl and crack
rolled up in kitchen drawers

she lists in defence two-sided things
the back of a cinema, secretive and dirty
how dust accrues behind the sideboard
the hungry mirror, the hanged man
how the opposite is always true

I woke myself up she says
from the labours of twilight sleep

when the lost return, how shall they look?


Pippa Little is a poet, mentor and workshop facilitator. Overwintering (Carcanet) came
out in 2012 , Twist (Arc) in 2018: a third collection is forthcoming. She works for The Royal Literary Fund at Newcastle University and lives in Northumberland.

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