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Be Careful What You Wish

By Pratibha Castle -

As a girl I learnt to wish myself

invisible on the front seat

atop a double decker bus

believed I was a black hole choking

on gossipy fug Players smoke lonely

women’s sighs the clippie perceiving

no-one where I sat lumbering back

along the aisle past the ‘no spitting on buses’ sign

In a spin of schools quick to switch

as a card sharp's chicanery or

my mother’s mood taunts zephyr soft

could never break me for I wasn't there

I applied myself to investigating emptiness

convinced I was the pause in music

between thoughts air

in the hollow bones of birds

a missive spun from clouds

by a swift more luminous than pity

understood by those alone with senses

more than five

Having banished myself dismantled

tooth hair child’s spaniel yelp

grown flimsier than my granny’s ghost

I established how to melt through walls

Day by day my photo on the mantle faded

bleached features growing fainter

like an often-laundered stain

dissolving to a blur

Years on in Regent’s Park there was a man

with eyes that saw I tried to wish myself

anew re-embody muscle flesh

plumping over sternum hips

All I managed was a hand flaccid

as a starling fallen from the clouds

and that man casting not a clout passed on by

left me string-less kite adrift

Be Careful What You Wish first appeared in Ink Sweat and Tears, Day Two of ‘Choice’ for NPD October 8 2021


Pratibha Castle’s award-winning debut pamphlet A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Poetry Press) was published February 2022. Her work appears in Agenda, HU, Blue Nib, OHC, London Grip, Fragmented Voices amongst others. Highly commended, long-listed and given special mention in competitions including The Bridport Poetry Prize, Welsh Poetry Competition, Gloucestershire Poetry Society Competition, Brian Dempsey Memorial Competition, Sentinel Literary Journal Competition, Storytown Poetry Competition, Pratibha is anthologised, and a regular reader for West Wilts Radio Poetry Place.

A selection of poems and discussion on her life and inspiration can be heard at Home Stage Meet the Poet.


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