The Deal, Annie Fisher
HappenStance Press, 2020 £5.00
People in 'The Deal'
Memorable characters are a highlight of The Deal. ‘In Hiding’, for example, introduces childhood memories of a father who ‘popped out every night / to see a man about a dog’:
and my mother
who saw Christ in every soul
on the out-of-tune piano in the hall.
Then there are ‘the tall girls / sleek as swans’ in ‘Small’:
how I envied
the beautiful maps of their limbs
extending from Land’s End
to distant ice-blond Arctic.
This ability to capture people opens up some powerful territory, as in the sinister childhood memories of ‘The Gate’, where ‘Uncle Paul came / with red roses for our mother, / the darkest red, / the sweetest-ever scent’:
He’d crook his yellow finger,
croaking foreign words like some ancient
from down the well.
Meanwhile, Sister Ursula (‘as plump and reassuring / as a steamed pudding’) is wonderfully evoked in ‘Cold War Supper’ as she introduces her pupils to pigeon for the first time:
‘Chew carefully girls,’ Sister Ursula said with a wink,
doling out unctuous ladles of alien meat.
‘Spit out anything hard; any nuggets or grit.’
She then goes out to shoot a brace of the offending birds:
‘Communists! Heretics!’ she mutters.
‘I can hear what you’re plotting – A coup! A coup!
I’ll give you something to coo about!’
‘A Hotel Restaurant’ perfectly captures the ‘round-bellied corporate frogs / dispatching coffee and full English / with their long elastic tongues’ and ‘two Saga iguanas / […] lipping sweet, stewed fruit / and honeyed yogurt’.
The poet’s wry humour is evident, too, in ‘Insurance Plan’ with its perennially disappointed protagonist:
Let-downs ambushed him throughout his life —
the taste of fresh-perked coffee; aubergines;
live albums; picnics; Camembert; his wife.
‘The Jungle Waits Outside, My Best Beloved’ reveals depths in the encounter between grandparent and nine-year-old ‘extraordinary’ grandchild on a visit to the zoo.
Finally, ‘The Orange Lobster And The Hens’ (complete with pop anthem soundtrack) is a hilarious account of a train journey where a hen party in ‘kitten heels’ and Donald Trump (in the guise of an orange lobster) collide to surreal and pointedly political effect. These are characters not to be missed!