What do you think?
One reader, Joanne Lee Ward, shares with us poems she wrote inspired by East End painter Doreen Fletcher.
Bus stop, Mile End (1983) – D Fletcher
It’s cold and the leaden sky is darkening
like a old god becoming angry.
But I know that soon
the bright shiny bus: number 8
will take me home to my warmth.
Its air is fuggy and the windows steamy so
I will draw a smily face on the glass
and the eyes will cry with condensation.
But for now I must wait,
staring at the grey bricks,
moss growing in the cracks
like emerald jewels.
Droplets of rain hit the shelter like small thudding bullets.
I am safe – for the moment,
away from the structures of steel and glass
at the end of this route.
A car splashes muddy puddle water on my legs
as it zooms past.
The bus is overdue now and I could walk instead – by the canal
but two ladies start to chat and I strain to listen.
Her daughter has a job at Presto.
She will get a promotion soon.
So for now I will wait for the 8.
Launderette, Ben Jonson Road (2001) – D Fletcher
The heavy door swings open with a creak
and some more of its paint flakes off like the make-up
of an ageing beauty.
The heat of the room engulfs its visitors in a cloak of soapy fug,
a comfort blanket of warmth and clean jumpers
– and a single lone sock
The machines are alive, whirring with life; a hypnotic spinning
Round and round like the flying horses on the merry go round
in Vicky Park when the fair came.
Frothy bubbles are trapped against the thick round portholes.
The sins of the clothes, washed clean away
The lonely woman in the chair is asleep.
Lulled by the mechanical hum and a mechanical heartbeat
keeping time as the cycle completes.
She has waterfalls in her dreams
and she is swimming in the swirling sea.
The newspaper falls from her hand
onto the empty checked bag at her feet
its contents in the bowels of the machine; her bag a crumpled empty womb.
Her toes were like sausages wriggling in the launderette heat.
She loves her summer dress but sweats into the unnatural fibres.
Her flat is cold and lonely on a summer’s day.
The machine makes a clunk
The cycle is over and the warm contents are spewed out.
The woman has to leave but she doesn’t want to.
She’ll come back tomorrow, back to this female space.
She’ll bring her bedding but she knows it is clean.
Someone has propped the door open now.
The delicious heat is escaping, absorbed into the hazy air of the road outside.
Corner shop, Canning Town east London (1994) – D Fletcher
The door swings open and the child treads gingerly on the cracked lino
And the shopkeeper’s beady eye rests upon on her.
The child feasts her eyes on the coloured jewels
imprisoned in glass jars and plastic tubs,
released for a few pennies
quarter by quarter
or trapped in paper bags for 10 pence.
She only needs this small cramped corner
of gobstoppers and toffee,
powdery bon bons and sherbet lemons.
Her favourites are the foam bananas and shrimps
Long banned E numbered colours that will keep her up all night.
She can bite them and see how wonky her teeth are.
An adult strides in.
He has no need for sweets.
He heads for the news.
He hesitates and
remembers the sticky twists of cough candy and he does have a long car journey.
He shakes his head and leaves.
He has no need for childish sweets.
He’ll get coffee instead.
Maybe from the café.