‘Blithe Spirits’ appears in strange fruits by Maria C. McCarthy, published in memory of Karen McAndrew. All profits from its sale go to Macmillan Cancer Support. £754 has been raised so far (June 2011 – November 2012). Copies are available at £8 plus p&p. To purchase, click here: strange fruits.
‘Blithe Spirits’ and Maria’s Foreword to strange fruits are also downloadable as a pdf here: Blithe spirits Maria C McCarthy.
Do women spirits glide ethereal
in chiffon, ectoplasm-green,
like in that Noel Coward film,
or do they haunt as when the angels came –
flannelette pyjamas; half-dressed
in bra and slip; safety pins clasping at
too-tight trousers – or well turned out
as for a viewing of the deceased?
Do they hobble round in slippers,
toes wrapped over toes,
or does the afterlife’s chiropodist
pumice, balm, remould, render them to dance
in six-inch high stilettos, forever bunionless?
Maria C. McCarthy
Maria’s Foreword to strange fruits is reproduced below:
Karen had little interest in my writing. I would tell her if I was taking a poetry class, doing a reading, but I never showed her my work, or talked about books with her. Our relationship was based on simple pleasures – cups and cups of tea, nattering about our families, ‘mooching’ around the charity shops of Rochester followed by a pub lunch.
I haven’t written a poem for Karen, but this collection opens with ‘Blithe Spirits’, which Karen would have liked. Karen’s blithe spirit will be wearing jeans, a brightly coloured top with a bit of a sparkle on it and colourful jewellery, all found in charity shops. She may not bother with footwear now; she was a size 9 and had trouble finding fashionable shoes. Maybe there is a plentiful supply of size 9s in the afterlife.
The collection closes with a prose piece, ‘Where the High Street meets Star Hill’, about our last outing together. May Karen be sitting in a cafe with an endless supply of tea, or in a pub, in good company, drinking Pernod and lemonade on ice from a tall glass.