INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD

 

Audrey Ardern-Jones spent her childhood in Africa where her English father and Polish mother were posted.

 

She’s enjoyed a wonderful nursing career, specialising in cancer genetics.

 

Audrey has always loved the Arts and founded The Poetry & Music Ensemble in 1984.

 

Her poems are widely published and have won prizes or been commended in international competitions.

 

Currently, she is Artist in Residence at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and is an active supporter of poetry projects in her community of Epsom & Ewell.  

 

‘Doing the Rounds’ is Audrey's debut collection and profits from this book are being given to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

 

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

64 pages

 

£9.99 + P&P UK

 

ISBN 978-1-912876-13-6

 

PUB: 23/08/2019

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing the Rounds

 

Audrey Ardern-Jones

 

 

This collection touches on the poet’s childhood memories of living in Africa  –  her feelings of being in awe of so much and yet uncertain about many of the happenings. Most of her travel poems in India relate to incidents that have made her question herself – some of the poems about her Polish mother and her suffering post-WW2 echo throughout the collection.

 

***

“Ardern-Jones is a poet with an artist’s painterly sensibility, a musician’s fine ear, a nurse’s affinity for strangers and their plight. Poems for the ear, poems of language – Polish and Bemba, Portuguese and English. An intelligent, finely crafted poetry of curiosity and caring, of listening and loving, of humour and hope.”

Paul Stephenson  

 

“These poems have an openness and generosity of spirit with a precise use of language that brings the reader into the world of what it is to be human. Ardern-Jones’s rich cultural heritage and work experiences are rooted in the living world. The book explores love and friendship across boundaries.”  

Wendy French  

 

“These are poems that take us round and through a life, illuminated by sharp-eyed observation, personal insight, and most of all a generous sense of our shared humanity.”

Robert Seatter

 

 

Doing the Rounds

 

Agnieszka was muttering in Polish

scattering crusts for city sparrows

when kids on bikes lunged at her

went for the unzipped bag

 

coins, holy cards, medals lay

loose on cracked slabs

beads of a broken wooden rosary

strewn deep in the gutter

 

as she lay on the pavement

she thought back to her homeland

a child rounded up

trudging with the thousands

 

on cobbled roads, unmade tracks

holding her father’s hand

bodies in the snow, Russian soldiers

in grey woollen overcoats

 

burning the ice with guns

all this she told me, on the ward

knowing my mother, like her

escaped Lwów, kept going

 

 

A Recent Visit to Lusaka

 

In the Soweto market on Lumumba road

trippers taste dried Kapenta fish and cured caterpillars.

Locals fry termites in pans and buy mopane worms.

On Saturdays, the football stadium is crowded,

fans rooting for Lusaka Dynamos.

At night, club music echoes full volume

over high-rise flats and lit-up sky-scrapers

under an African moon.

 

In the suburbs, untamed dogs bark in unnamed streets

where mud roads meet tarmac, where boys with scythes

cut grass near nail-netted boundaries.

Where barefoot men in the Kalingalinga compound

drink kachasu, cut their feet on the broken glass,

smoke roll-ups, swear in Nyanja,

and stumble back to makeshift homes,

mosquitoes sucking liquor from their lips.

 

I walk this place with Sister Ann,

tread down rubbish on the stone-pebble ground.

We visit a young boy, no tyres on his wheel-chair,

puffed legs, torn patches on his shorts.

He greets us with a grin – pools of darkness

fill his mother’s eyes, a baby

strapped on her back, arms folded,

crumbs on the ground, ants everywhere.

 

 

Award Winning Care Home

             

the night-nurse found him in bed with Elsie

he’d tipped flowers on the floor

drunk water from the vase, thought sheets were sand

the corridor a route to find the beach

 

they said he had a right

not to shut his door, not to have cot sides

a right to wander if he wanted – but he didn’t know

his name, didn’t know how to speak

 

at breakfast they found him

spilling cornflakes down his jumper

eating bacon with his fingers, drinking

tea backwards

 

days after he arrived, the Sister in charge

called his daughter, told her to search

for another home – her tone like a head teacher

expelling a child from school

 

Night Train through Uttar Pradesh

 

The carriages are full, families lie curled together

sleeping on bunks, blankets covering their heads.

 

The man in the bunk below me eats his curry from

a paper box – shares it with his wife and child.  

 

I read with my torch before I sleep. The conductor

wakes us, checking and clipping our tickets. Outside,

 

we hear calls of the cockerels rousing the villagers,

a wash of peach-gold light spills over the rice fields.

 

We pass women in coloured saris, pink, gold, green

and sapphire blue – children wave at us, wave again.

 

I wave back, snap-flashing images with my camera,

a mother turns and glares at me. I delete my photos.

 

Her look stays inside me. The train trundles on to Delhi

where crowds meet us, push us across the platforms.

 

Outside the station, I’m swept over by a sea of children,

a sing-song of voices – Take my picture! Take my picture!

 

 

Aunt Joyce

 

She never lost her Englishness living a life

in other lands – insisting on tea in a china cup

and linen napkins for Sunday lunch.

I told her wild tales of strawberries growing

on blossom trees and how English girls

still blushed at the sight of a naked oak.

We’d play Scrabble in the Italian mid-day sun

in made-up Aunt Joyce language – me fumbling

on a slick slack word, she laughing as she

pencilled in her points, never missing a trick.

After she died, I missed her ocean long calls

in the middle of a night, our marmalade talks

of orange peel and cats – a corner of my world,

where we shared our history and our art.

 

 

Every Saturday

 

we waited at the bus-stop, girls in boots, miniskirts,

black-bitty curled-up mascara eyelashes, bee-hive

brushed hair, ticked eyes and white-pink lipstick.

 

Swanky boys wolf-whistled at us, their arms winging

sideways, hanging on to a metal pole on the jump on,

jump off platform of the bus – the conductress clipped

 

our tickets from a wind-up machine on a leather strap

round her neck, tinging the bell twice at the Odeon stop.

Inside we queued under a chandelier’s broken shades

 

handing our money to a man smoking alone in a kiosk,

his yellow stained fingers counting up our change.

In the hall, posters of past movies stared down at us.

 

The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s – we were shown

in to the cinema by an usherette in a frilly hat and apron,

her silver torch poking holes in the dark, quietly and,

 

with a no ‘hanky-panky’ look in her eye, she pointed

to the back row, our seats with ashtrays on the corners

lit by a shaft of light from a projector beaming down.

 

We sat in silence admiring the gold velour fringed drapes

on either side of the stage in the red velvet auditorium.

A lion’s head roaring – turning – ready to swallow us up.

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