SPOTLIGHT: Neurotic Harmony by Charlotte Cosgrove

How We Love Our Mothers

I used to get scared when my mother fed the seagulls at the beach
They would lift her up by the arms of her jacket –
Give her quilted wings.
She would dangle
From their prism shaped beaks
As if she were washing
Ready to be pegged on the line.

Even though I voice my concern
She still feeds them, fearlessly
As bold as the birds
Not understanding
I know
She could die.

Dolls For Daughters

Naked Barbies are littered
At the bottom of the bath.
Limbs cross over, one on top of the other,
On top of the other, on top of the other,
Dead bodies in mass graves.
Blonde hair – bushy, matted like hay bales,
Marble sized breasts,
Bare – unapologetic.
One is spread so wide, legs and arms
Trying to take up as much space as possible,
A 21st Century Vitruvian Man.
Painted eyes and smiles look up at me.
They are beautiful insects.
I bundle them up and leave them
On a towel to dry.
They are free and clean
And real.

Sorry for your Loss

They told me he was lost –
Like keys.
My mother trying to remember the last jangle
Before she placed them down.
Forgot where she put him.
I was angry she could be so careless.
I wasn’t even allowed to take something to the shop
In case I lost it.

I started looking under beds for him,
Round the back of the shed,
The linen cupboard.

I wandered through the front door
Searching for him.
She would always find me –
Arms limp at my sides
Like broken stalks.

She guided me back indoors.
Apologised to family and friends
By telling them –
She’s just so lost.

The Gorilla

A week after we visited the zoo a gorilla escaped.
He smashed the glass, went wild.
The people had to be put into a secure area
So they were not mauled to death by a hairy half-human.
Apparently, he was out for hours.
He must have thought he’d done it, complete freedom achieved.
But he just found himself in a bigger cage
With even more people staring at him.
Maybe he enjoyed it for awhile, the fear
He created. He had transcended
Everything he had ever known.
The staged jungled wrapped in glass –
A dead insect in resin.
There must have been something
That tipped him over the edge –
To headbutt the glass so hard that blood
Browned and crystallised on the surface.
It could have been us – pointing at him,
Shouting ooga booga,
Blowing kisses at him,
Putting our faces to the glass.


When I was eight
I cut the eyelashes off my Furby.
The lashes –
Wiry like draft excluders.
I kept it on a shelf at the back so nobody would see.
As I got older more items needed
To be hidden –
My room, a refuge.
Cigarettes, drugs, photographs.
Words hidden in notebooks,
Secreted in drawers.

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