Don’t let me be misunderstood
my t-shirt. I mean he’s wearing a t-shirt
the same as one of mine. I have a t-shirt just like his.
Only smaller. And his fits differently,
on account of his flatchestedness.
he’s young enough is what I mean. He looks a bit
disconcerted, I think he’s noticed me looking at him.
Probably thinks I’m a cougar. Not an actual cougar.
I’d hate to be misconstrued. After all,
he could almost be my son. I’ll look away now,
They’re plastic, so not actual flowers.
The colours are quite garish but I guess
they occur in nature. The colours I mean,
not the flowers. Flowers like that don’t exist.
With a pen. He’s not very good. At the crossword,
I mean. His head bobbing up and down
as he counts the spaces. He’s frowning, it doesn’t fit.
I’d offer him a hand, but he might misunderstand,
plus he’s doing the cryptic. I’m no good at those.
because they’ve all tried it,
what happens to the pencils
when you push them,
blunted end first,
into the hole and turn them
against the blade
and yet today I feel it
all over again, the amazement
offered by one small boy bringing me
the finger he had shorn, the nail shredded,
blood dark and oozing from the tiny wound.
Did you put your finger in the sharpener?
Did you catch it against the blade?
I ask these questions without thinking,
tearing open a band-aid.
He’s six, the number of perfection.
Listening to Schubert’s Piano Quintet ‘Trout’
poor Schubert died
even younger than you.
O my mysterious father,
where you are
smiling, dangling shining fish from lines.
It’s a family tradition
squelching along muddy river banks
old reel to reel. I hear
under watery time and space,
hiding among the reeds,
those sweet, fleeting sounds
of darting fish.
Listen to Claire Orchard read ‘Don’t let me be misunderstood‘
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Claire Orchard was born in Wainuiomata, grew up various Hutt Valley locations, and now lives in Wellington, where she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML in 2013. She has had work published in Penduline Press, the 2012 Eat Your Words anthology, JAAM, 4th Floor and Landfall.