On first reading Angela’s poem recalling her somewhat cunning (winked at her cronies) grandmother, it appears to be all about superstition (the four leafed clover in her purse) and luck (they called her a jammy beggar) especially when set in a bingo hall at a holiday camp.
But this is also a poem about a strong matriarch, her strength of belief and of those who believed in her (I spent hours on my knees, counting leaves on clover). And there, at the end is the poignant twist, that when used to ‘lend strength, bolster radiation, shrink tumours’, even when you find the perfect clover, and it still doesn’t work, the reason? I’ll let Angela’s grandmother tell you.
Here is Angela reading at the great Wordsmith’s & Co a collaboration between Apples and Snakes and Nine Arches Press.
Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals, in the UK and abroad and has been anthologised a number of times. She has an MA in ‘Creative and Critical Writing’ from the University of Gloucestershire and is studying for a PhD. Publications include Occupation (Ragged Raven Press) and Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press). Angela is features editor of Iota and runs a monthly poetry cafe, ‘Buzzwords’. Her latest collection, Hide (from which Nanna’s Luck is taken), is out now and published by Nine Arches Press.
The rabbit’s foot in her pocket
was capped in silver, grey fur
sleek from fingering; the four leafed clover
in her purse flat and paper-thin.
She refused to call it luck or cunning;
only winked at her cronies
when they called her a jammy beggar.
I’d sit with her at the curved counter
in the holiday camp, sliding plastic shutters
as she pointed to numbers when they came up,
waiting for her to shout House!
Mum sat there too, listening to the caller
legs eleven, two little ducks, key of the door,
and grumbling that the numbers didn’t come
for her. Nanna told her to concentrate;
you ent thinkin’ right!
There was a day when I spent hours on my knees,
counting leaves on clover, looking for the one
which would lend strength, bolster radiation,
shrink tumours. I found one; perfectly shaped,
each leaf the same size and set at ninety degrees
to its neighbour. She tucked it in her purse
and grinned. It didn’t work; we weren’t
Originally Published in ‘Hide’ by Nine Arches Press
I’ve just read Angela’s collection ‘Hide’ and was thinking there were a number of poems in there that might fit your bill, so I’m glad you’ve featured this one. Tough and tender.
Thanks Hilaire, pleased you liked the choice. A good way of describing it.