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Belinda Rimmer has worked as a psychiatric nurse, lecturer and creative arts practitioner. Her poems have been widely published in online and print journals, and anthologies.

 

In 2017, her poem, ‘water’, was turned into an award winning film, since shown Internationally. In 2018, she achieved second place in the Ambit Poetry Competition.

 

‘Touching Sharks in Monaco’ is a joint winner of the Indigo-First Pamphlet Competition 2018. www.belindarimmer.com

 

 

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

36 pages

 

£6.00+ P&P UK

 

ISBN 978-1-912876-08-2

 

PUB: 26/04/2019

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touching Sharks in Monaco

 

Belinda Rimmer

 

 

‘Touching Sharks in Monaco’ looks at memory and the distortion of memory – things remembered, things imagined. It addresses loss and trauma in family histories, the transience of nature, and ecological concerns. Further inspiration comes from a curiosity or need to make sense of lived experience and the wider world.  

 

*****

 

“Belinda Rimmer’s ‘Touching Sharks in Monaco’ is an assured debut from a strong poet. She investigates memory and its tricks with clear vision, often startling the reader with the unexpected (and sometimes uncomfortable) twist. Her language is precise, controlled and always fresh.

This was a pleasure to read from start to finish.”

Angela France

 

Touching Sharks in Monaco

 

Through the skylight a rectangle of grey

hints at thunder. Around the touch tank

children in bright cottons, chattering. I shush them.

 

Our guide demonstrates –

safe ways to touch, the need for care – in three languages.

 

I'm drifting back to Brighton –

bum bouncing on a plastic chair,

distant splash of dolphin and whale.

Clearly, Monaco knows how to do aquariums.

 

Sleeves rolled up, I'm here for the shark.

I probe the tank's cool salty water.

He glitters, bumps the walls, and turns.

It's all or nothing, now or never.

 

I slide my hand deeper.

He's sandpaper rough against my open palm.

 

Someone shouts, Stop!

I've forgotten everything:

the two finger rule, how to stroke a dorsal fin.

 

The shark escapes to the other side,

to children with thumbs and spare fingers neatly tucked away.

 

She calls across the tank, just remember for next time.

Our guide, so certain of my return.

 

 

Sixpence Purse

 

I think the blood came from my mother's finger

as she fumbled to secure her buttonhole.

 

I know she carried this purse

on her wedding day – inside a sixpence, a talisman.

 

I keep it in a matchbox. Only I get to touch

its cracked cream leather and delicate clasp.

 

Everything, the little stitches, white popper

and lucky sixpence, speaks of my mother.

 

I'd sneak into her room, let that purse transform me

from awkward girl into bride.

 

Swishing up the aisle in my puff-ball dress

I'd see it

 

all before me – a husband, two children, a dog,

promise of a family life.

 

 

To Alison

 

We'd often stop off on the way back from work in some sleazy bar where no one knew us. You drank pints of lager like the boys. We played penny slot machines, fed the jukebox, Joan Armatrading or Dylan. Sometimes we'd go to your flat to carry on drinking. Displayed on a table, photographs of you modelling on a beach. You said you weren't as pretty as you'd once been. I found your eyes beautiful with their black centres, or courageous. When we touched, our skins blurred and burned. We were young, not yet adults, and this was new, unusual, exposing. It happened on a sharp bend, you in a hurry in the leaves and rain. I thought then of those sleazy bars and the way our skins had blurred and burned.

In a Museum with Frida Kahlo

 

It comes to us all.

For me it came in a museum with Frida Kahlo

in the dead of night.

 

Shadows fell from her paintings,

slashed my pool of light.

Frida in chains, at play with a monkey, and in a hospital bed.

 

The groan of cooling walls accompanied me to the top floor.

I glimpsed Frida again in photographs –  

her long neck strained, eyebrows arched, eyes dark as my own.

 

No star-filled sky or lure of Lisbon streets

could wrench me from Frida.

It was my son's voice. How he wasn't coming home.

Not then. Not for a long time.

 

It comes to us all. Missing children.  

For me it came in a museum with Frida Kahlo

in the dead of night.

 

 

Sign Language

 

We share a bench among the wild-flower borders,

stinging with heat, the hiss of grasshopper all around.  

 

She chats away in Japanese.

I sigh a glass-blower's sigh, make ready for silence.

 

Her perfect fingers begin to dance,

weaving silk from air. I follow, my hands scribbling.

 

Our gestures grow brighter, bolder.

They tell of tumbling sea otters, or is it the spooling of wool?

 

Of warblers carrying clouds on their backs,

a shore at low sun, its orangey glow, and the thrill of paddling.

 

Of cherry blossom, pink clustered parks,

the splash of Spring rain.

 

I think of bringing you to this garden

but could our damp words make it blaze?

 

As the moon rises over the old house,

stirred by Night Blooming Jasmine, I learn to say  

 

sayounara.

 

 

Blades

 

She flipped the knives in the drawer,

covered them with a tea towel.  

 

Her son knew nothing of her fear.

How she imagined

her hand slipping to pierce

his little heart

under chubby white skin,

smug with newness.

 

If his hair fell into knots

she didn't untangle it,  

afraid one small hurt

could lead to another.  

 

To soothe him she played

Beethoven in the front room

away from those sharp edges.

 

She scratched his name

into the wooden window frame,

a talisman. Still those knives

haunted her, day and night,

an unvoiced shadow.

 

JOINT WINNER

INDIGO-FIRST PAMPHLET COMPETITION 2018

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