Charlotte Oliver

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the poet

Charlotte Oliver lives in Yorkshire. She's had poetry commissions from the BBC, as well as from Scarborough’s South Cliff Gardens Restoration Project. Her work has appeared in various publications including Dream Catcher, Green Teeth, Ice Floe, Black Bough Poetry, Cape, Spelt and Fevers of the Mind. Charlotte's debut chapbook, How To Be A Dressing Gown, was published by Dreich Chapbooks, and she's currently working on a radio ballad funded by Arts Council England.

the poems

How To Be a
Dressing Gown

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            Your role is that of a hug

            in clothing form,

            you must channel the softness of a lullaby

            and the gentleness of true love.

            And, of course, have big pockets

            with a tissue inside.


            A valuable source of warmth

            you must be a mobile retreat in times of illness, heartbreak,

            a good Saturday book after a hard week


            or a crisp Christmas morning.


            Be always ready,

            lurk in unexpected places

            (the bathroom floor? the dining room? Monday lunchtime?)

            and your greatest gift: the trump card

            the un-ignorable siren to the world

            and uninvited visitors at the door,

            that the wearer is

            OFF DUTY

            and no questions can be asked


            (but this must only be used in extremis

            or its force will fade).


            You have the power of an unexpected sponge pudding

            with custard

            but stay humble and keep yourself together –

            lose your belt

            and you will probably become

            dusters.

Nothing Happens
But Everything Happens

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            Like the imperceptible inhalations

            of rising bread.


            Like bare soil in winter.


            Like Mondays in Lockdown

            when the earth scrapes round with grief.

            Like when I cook dinner, everyday.


            Like a feeling you didn’t ask for.


            Like a yes or a no.


            Like the silence when you ask if they’re okay

            and the words in their throat crumple up

            like a paper straw sucked too hard

            and you can’t straighten it out for them.

Hope

00:00 / 00:45
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            I want the belief

            of an ant with a giant leaf,

            of the Alsatian that escorts its owner down the street,

            of a herring gull leaving land behind,

            of a wasp.


            I don’t remember what it used to be like,

            just the clatter of freedom like waves on a pebbled shore,

            and eternity’s breath on my bare neck.

            I don’t remember how it felt

            just the early taste of you – fresh water from a quiet stream.

            I don’t remember much

            except the view that embraced me from all directions:

            a thousand greens,

            stitched together with hope.

Publishing credits

All poems: How To Be A Dressing Gown (Dreich Chapbooks)