Charis Anderson


View as PDF: Charis Anderson - Poetry



For a Mother 

The fallout spelt re-birth

Air thin with bomb scent

And laughing gas

We lay limp and knife-eyed

Beside one another


Grey-lipped and collecting dust


The nurses swamped us

With fact and curled handwriting


Just as we were

For nineteen years


Nobody else could touch us


Mother was a ghost

She kissed my infant neck

As if I were broken glass

Her smile smelled of spilled milk

I wanted to love her


Guilt at being two

When one would suffice

Mother I am sorry

I am a slice of you

And you will never be whole

The Empress's New Clothes 

I wasn’t born, I was knitted - an experiment in making the perfect daughter. The yarn

was soft as dusk, trickling through the fingers of my father, looped and threaded,

moulded by my mother in colours that do not exist.


I was a skinny child, my legs - two lengths of string with knots for knees - but I was a

keen athlete, regardless. Each dance would unravel me; each swim would shrink my

loose stitching. I was always finding new ways to lose myself, or to become 'at home'

with me.


On each birthday my mother would knit me a new jumper, dress or mittens and I

would grow, my woollen limbs branching out, becoming intricate and full. I could

never shed any gifts of clothing. Each year they firmly rooted their cuffs and hems to

my frame.


When my father lay dying the bloody colours of my fibres burned bright, clashing so

feverishly that his fading yellowed eyes could still pick me out of the vigil crowd. As

time passed there was plenty of opportunity to trade beauty for brokenness.


I am beginning to notice that my mother is shrinking. It strikes me that she is an image

of my grandmother's ghost, as if she is somehow following her own mother to the

grave. I see the future; my mother still grips her needles and they unwind me,

threadbare, to

the end.

The Corner of the Monologue

I enter a church which once knew my growth.

My head repeats hymn after hymn - my personal battleships.

It is fear that ties me to the pew by fish-netted legs,

my elastic strings, cast out into deep blues.


The weight of the crisp morning beats down on each wet eye.

The congregation whisper their goodbyes, in glances,

holding death and binding it to life,

binding it to yesterday.


I remember our walks down at the wind-firmed fossil beach,

through heavy doors I can still smell the paint on his fingertips

and feel the grit of parched sand between my toes.

I hope only that my speech will take me there.


Our priest appears in fish-eyed clarity, encircled by salt-stained lids.

The walls heave and a thousand mourners cannot breathe.

In this outer-space, November and I remove our colours -

these colours were for him.