Monday 15 April 2024

Vic Pickup, "The Omniscient Tooth Fairy"

Vic Pickup is the author of Lost & Found (Hedgehog Press, 2020), What Colour is My Brain? (co-written with Jules Whiting, Hedgehog Press 2022) and The Omniscient Tooth Fairy (Indigo Dreams, 2023). She has also edited an anthology, Reading Poets, forthcoming in June 2024 from Two Rivers Press. Vic is a co-organiser of Poets CafĂ© Reading and the town’s Stanza group. Her website is here.

About The Omniscient Tooth Fairy, by Vic Pickup
The Omniscient Tooth Fairy documents the decade following the poet becoming a mother: from hospital visits and melted Easter eggs to viewing world news through new eyes. Exploring old vulnerabilities and discovering new strengths, this collection observes the daily rhythm of holding on and letting go that comes with adjusting to parenthood, and change. The poems illustrate the world in all its beguiling complexity, enticing us to both absorb and shield from it, taking what’s needed to find faith and purpose; pursuing the quest to know ourselves better.

You can read more about The Omniscient Tooth Fairy on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read two poems from the collection. 


From The Omniscient Tooth Fairy

Him, building me a bookcase

Sixteen chunky shelves, propped on blocks
of pallet wood, sliced like angel cakes –
each one a different shade.                         
A dusty finger pins the glossy pages
of a how-to book. Cautiously, he drills,
but soon his eye is fixed, unblinking.
The bar turns, the wood secured in its vice.                         
Lines of sinew flicker in his forearm as he saws,
then blows and smooths the debris clear.
He measures with one eye shut,
improvises in places where
the spirit level would not go.
He gives purpose to timber fit only for the fire,
a hand-me-down drill and screws
from an ice cream tub on a garage shelf.
Having masked the edges, he applies three coats,
wearing war paint of magnolia, the glean of cream
laden thickly on his brush.
We stand and my hand slides
into his back pocket, already wondering
which will go where and in what order.
He doesn’t know, but this is my greatest wish:
not the having of a place
or a way to keep things, only this –
Him, building me a bookcase.    
The longing of Judith Kerr

What if you could give them back
their hats, coats, scarves? Place
a knitted glove onto each small hand.
What if you could return their hair to them,
for plaiting, threading with daisy chains;
pull from the sack the toy train,
hand-carved, and old bear,
a travelling companion – exactly the one,
with a bright blue bow around his neck
frayed from too much love?
What if you could put them all back
into the right hands, find the shoes,
a perfect pair, buckle the feet, all tucked up
in woollen socks? What if you could fill
their cheeks until red and ruddy,
make rounded tums and dimpled legs,
scatter freckles on faces with the touch
of summer, then place in one gloved hand
another, bigger? What if you could give them
a mother; give them back a father too,
smiling down as button eyes look up?
What if they could hold hands and step back
on board the train, this one with red velour seats
and a warm welcome from the lady
with the trolley, who offers jelly sweets
and apples and a storybook,
about a tiger who came to tea?
Note: Judith Kerr’s Creatures (2015) is dedicated to “the one and a half million Jewish children who didn’t have my luck, and all the pictures they might have painted."

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