Jill Abram

© Naomi Woddis

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the poet

Director of Malika's Poetry Kitchen, a collective encouraging craft, community and development, Jill Abram grew up in Manchester, travelled the world and now lives in Brixton. She's performed her poems everywhere from London to the Ledbury Poetry Festival, as well as in Paris, the USA and online. Jill's poetry has appeared in The Rialto, Magma, Finished Creatures, Ink Sweat &Tears, And Other Poems and Harana. When not writing poetry, Jill produces and presents a variety of events, including the Stablemates series of poetry and conversation.

the poems

Stepping Out

00:00 / 01:01

His tight hold and

strong lead send the calendar

backwards. I shed

half my lifetime, my weight

as we quick quick

slow across the grass.


This stranger saw

my winces at every kick

of the drum, tish

of the hi-hat, chose to

rescue me for a foxtrot

around the garden.


Evening sun stretches

shadows – our heads

bob among apple trees.

I move at his command –

can hear the melody

playing in his head.


We flow over the lawn:

chasse, turn, promenade.

A burst of laughter

could be at our expense.

His step never falters,

he does not loosen his grip.

Dive

00:00 / 01:01

Tanks checked, mask on, I topple in backwards, descend.

I approach your feet, count ten little toes, as there should be.

I want to check fingers too but only have enough air

for one full scan. They’ll have to wait until I’m halfway.


Your legs are plump, a dimple on each side of chubby knees,

as yet no sign of patella bones. There are folds at the top

of each thigh to be checked carefully at every nappy change.

And now I can see you are a boy. You should be my boy.


A fat little belly, umbilicus trailing, wafting in the swell.

Two functionless nipples but you’d look wrong without them.

Now I can fin along an arm from your shoulder to the relief

of thumb, four fingers, and across to the same on the other side.


I swim away to see your whole face then back for the detail;

teeny round chin, lips surprisingly full and a perfect bow.

The cliché button nose, your eyelids fringed by blond lashes,

closed. I want to see the colour of your eyes, for you to see me.

Marriage Vow

00:00 / 01:11

Mum says Dad was brought as a date for her sister

by his friend who said, This is my friend Leo.


Mum says Dad would have asked out whoever answered the phone,

but he only rang at dinnertime when she was nearest.


Mum says Dad took her to dinner and concerts,

If I wanted to have fun, I’d go out with one of the others.


Mum says Dad said, I’d like to marry you,

but I only earn £4 a week.


Mum says Dad went away, so when he came back

she said, I suppose we’d better get married.


Other people said she could give up work once

she was a wife, but Dad said, Not bloody likely!


After more than fifty years and two more generations,

Dad says, Turn the radiator up, I can’t hear a word!


Dad says, Have I had my dinner? when he’s just had his lunch.

Mum says We’ve had the better, now’s the worse.

Publishing credits

Stepping Out: exclusive first publication by iamb

Dive: The Fenland Reed

Marriage Vow: Cake Magazine

© original authors 2021

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