The Albatross

Poem for a Tuesday — “The Albatross” by Kate Bass

“When I know you are coming home
I put on this necklace:
glass beads on a silken thread,
a blue that used to match my eyes.
I like to think I am remembering you.
I like to think you don’t forget.

The necklace lies heavy on my skin,
it clatters when I reach down
to lift my screaming child.
I swing her, roll her in my arms until she forgets.
The beads glitter in the flicker of a TV set
as I sit her on my lap
and wish away the afternoon.

I wait until I hear a gate latch lift
the turn of key in lock.
I sit amongst toys and unwashed clothes,
I sit and she fingers the beads until you speak
in a voice that no longer seems familiar, only strange.
I turn as our child tugs at the string.
I hear a snap and a sound like falling rain.”

in 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, ed. Billy Collins. New York: Random House, 2005, p. 28.


Kate Bass is a British poet who works as an illustrator. Her critically acclaimed collection of poems The Pasta Maker was published in 2003. Grounded in family and detailed observations of the everyday, Bush’s work captures the emotional undertones of relationship – often felt, rarely spoken, deeply true. She lives with her family in Cambridge.


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