LONG EXPOSURE | Rosie Garland’s poem captures a snapshot moment of quiet rebellion.
by Rosie Garland
(Upway Wishing Well, Weymouth, 1904)
If asked, they’ll say it’s purely for the postcard photographer,
who arranged the scene: over there a chap with an unlit pipe,
a mother and daughter parked next to the well’s mouth
and the pair of them, Miss Jansell and Miss Nellie Meek,
snarled up at the kissing gate. They embrace
for the long wind and snap of the shutter. Three minutes,
they hold the kiss. Tomorrow, they will go back,
Miss Jansell and Miss Nellie Meek,
and wish again, and kiss; without onlookers,
photographer, the clank and rattle of equipment.
They will keep wishing. Kissing through the years of hiding
in long grass, behind bushes, in closets, in plain sight.
Shoulder pressed to shoulder, pale-knuckled against all
that would put them asunder. Till everything
that twists fear into law unwinds.
When time comes to unknot concealment, shrug off
its whalebone cage. Till they can put an end to wishes;
stand up, brush off their skirts, and act.
Novelist, poet and singer with post-punk band The March Violets, Rosie Garland’s work appears in Under the Radar, Spelk, The Rialto, Ellipsis, Butcher’s Dog, Longleaf Review, The North and elsewhere. New poetry collection ‘What Girls do the Dark’ (Nine Arches Press) is out October 2020. She’s authored three novels: The Palace of Curiosities, Vixen, and The Night Brother, which the Times of London described as ‘a delight . . . with shades of Angela Carter.’ In 2019, Val McDermid named her as one of the UK’s Top 10 LGBT writers.