Image: Georgia O’Keeffe – Abstraction Blue (1927)
Anas Hassan’s first collection, Bibi, Are You Living?, was published by Eyewear in 2017. His poems have appeared in magazines including Amaryllis; Ink, Sweat & Tears; Snakeskin; The Interpreter’s House and Under the Radar. He has performed at venues including Vortex Dalston (‘Words and Jazz’, EFG London Jazz Festival), Library Club (Soho Poetry Night) and Brixton Windmill. He has also exhibited at a London art show. He is currently working on a longer collection and collaborating with painters and sculptors on a new exhibition on the theme of ‘Lost Time’. Anas studied history and international relations at Cambridge University. He is a strategy consultant, chairs a running club and mentors a number of sports charities. He has run several marathons and ultramarathons, speaks French, German and Arabic, and lives in London.
I find a black metal box
shrouded in a corner of the attic.
Musty pages peel away your mask,
like bitter kumquat skins
stripped during mid-afternoon
repeats of Pointless
and Homes by the Sea.
An impish girl in nurse’s uniform,
straw hat and ribbons
poses by the ruined aviary
while a watchful friend
holds your cavaquinho,
on its way to being lost, again,
on the 8.17 to Streatham.
You’re rooted to December snow
in a Mary Quant dress
(that mattered then),
carrying a half-smiling boy,
always four years old,
as he tries to grab
his shiny red Mini.
Two weeks later
you planted a yew tree
at the end of the garden.
I’m there now
in a wicker chair
hunting the wintry sun
under a blanket, shivering.
Empire Day. At the Victorian mill
between the River Wey and the deer park
an executioner hovers over
the sugar paste twin, fair-haired, in short shorts,
a blue number pinned to her faded vest.
The sugar paste twin waits, coiled, legs dangling,
poised for the crow of the human rooster.
She slips away, dodging discarded hats
and gloves and unopened water sachets
towards a twice familiar Hades:
Polly Shortts, through Umlaas Road, Inchanga,
Botha’s Hill, Field’s Hill, Cowie’s Hill, Kingsmead,
past the plain of yew trees, across the Moy.
She clambers up the steep cliffs at Croaghaun
to observe pods of bottle-nosed dolphins
preying on forage fish, grey-brown mottled
basking sharks snaring a plankton supper,
peregrine falcons vaunting hunting stoops.
The sugar paste twin marches past Faulgah
and its megalithic tombs, and attends
Connacht’s Sea Queen, while blessed Martha prays
at the twelfth century church on the hill,
aspergillum in her hands, cooking pots
and soup ladles on the walnut table.
Midsummer Day. The ballroom is infused
with vinegar, lemon, pepper, honey;
bunches of kola nuts hang from small wire
branches. The sugar paste twin is arrayed
in white, topped with a bright red head-dress, wrists
grass-tied to a tall marzipan figure.
The slayer slices through layers of fruit
and icing, feverishly, ardently,
then strikes a glass-ringed iceberg. Calorie-
starved weary comrades look on with relish.
The sugar paste twin’s head skewers off as
marzipan man leans forward for a kiss.