Lizzie’s Trip Down Portobello

Bodies eddy her along the street.
Through punters’ chat. Costermongers
batting shouts like Epsom bookies. 

By the Sally Army hall she halts. Wishes Ernie
would glance up from tipping a bucket
down the drain. Shout Wotcha, gel.
Sidle her a wink. An excuse to dawdle.
Relish sugar-scent of hyacinth.
Chance a haggle over a fist of freesias.
Ernie grunts, turning, greets the street.
Luverly daffs, ladies. Tanner a toss.
Corner of All Saints and
Portobello, women huddle. Hens
flocking. Pecking gossip.
Princess Margaret scarves
knotted tight as knuckles
beneath their chins.

If only Eulalia from the deli would glance her way. Nod.
Elbow a chink into their cackling congregation.
Women’s chat. Absolution for a sin of solitude.
At murmurs of a poorly child, Eulalia might dab an eye,
squeeze Lizzie’s hand. 
A woman in a red coat, rust hair
straggling through spider net, steel curlers,
billows smoke. Bandies her a glare
as if channelling Lizzie’s thoughts.

Lizzie sighs. Ekes out cheer
of imaginary friendship. Drags her feet
like the terrier at the lamp-post
resisting its owner’s tug.

At a bicycle chained to iron railings
beside a purple painted house,
she turns down worn steps
leading to the basement. A poppy
pushing through a crack, flutters.
Petal welcome.

The basement door creaks
open to a skank of damp.
She kicks it shut. The lock clicks.
Bolts out the dusk. 




Pratibha Castle


Pratibha Castle lives in West Sussex. Widely publicised in journals and anthologies including Agenda, International Times, IS&T, Spelt, Tears In The Fence, London Grip, High Window and forthcoming in Stand, she has been longlisted and given special mention in numerous competitions including Bridport Prize, Indigo Press and Welsh Poetry Competitions. Her award-winning debut pamphlet A Triptych of Birds & A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Press 2022) will be joined by Miniskirts in The Waste Land (Hedgehog Poetry Press 2023), set in Notting Hill and India in the swinging sixties.



This entry was posted on in homepage and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.