Emma Conally-Barklem: Mágoa


I washed up today on the shore of your handbag
Two purses
One for everyday use
One for holidays and days out
Receipt for our Afternoon Tea, January 2018
Train ticket to York for a hotel stay.

Picked up your glasses
          The glass fell out
I was incensed, as if someone had poked a finger in your eye
Hair (synthetic) in a zipped freezer bag (undated)

60 Euros for Portugal, Bureau de Exchange receipt, folded and faded.
I scale for skin cells.

Hold glasses delicately aloft
Glint in the weak October sunlight,
I spy                          fingerprints
Whorls of unique truth
Semaphore of a being, irreplaceable, no fingers exist
But here you are offering me Monopoly money when I can’t travel

Though, I think of boarding a ‘plane where my name is my only currency and the meteor clump of molten ache will be hand luggage (undeclared)
An M&S lipstick (unused)
Pencil written list:
Aprons, bread, toothbrush (underlined), Fairy (Liquid not sprite)

I sit now, on the kitchen windowsill
Clear away the unidentified herb plant carcass that still remains
The grubby leavings you’d have cleared.
Perch above as you wash dishes, absent-minded

We can sit (simultaneously)
I can hand you your handbag of
Purses, photos, receipts, glasses, lipstick, list, a pen saying ‘Sister’, tickets, mobile phone (dead), driving license, store cards, coach card, Emergency Care card, Gold Line patient card

Minus the last two
As if they didn’t exist

Just the usual mum stuff in this battered bag
So you can look indignant, wondering how it ended up in my hands
Why I look so lined, broken, now relieved, grateful
Knowing as you gather me in for a casual cuddle (though for me it’s been so long)
I’ll have to hold back, act normal, hold on to you and this illusion lest the bag is all that remains.

About the Artist

Emma Conally-Barklem is a yogi, writer and poet. She currently has a summer residency with the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Her first chapbook ‘The Ridings’ is to be published by Bent Key Publishing, March 2023.