Pratibha Castle – The Only One Who Loves You

The Only One Who Loves You

Spurning words that echoed
like a curse, I stuffed
a duffel bag with
blister packs
of pills, Mary Quant
minis, fantasies of girls
threading daisies in the muzzles
of guns; fled to the Big Smoke. In a bedsit

by Kensington Gardens, I massacred
steak with the mallet of hate,
a year on, turned vegan;
pioneer in ’68 of pity
for pool-eyed cows,
sheep, slate stare plaice.
Feigned compassion. Strove

to prove to myself that I was
worthy of love. Strutted
the nights away with
flautists, a harpist whose
healer’s hands strummed my
strings; drummer, his silk tipped
stroke nimble on the snare; callous
guitarists plucking tunes from out of smoke drifts. Chanted

mantras with Ram Dass in a basement
in Notting Hill, dossed in a Maida Vale
squat; candles, calor gas stove, the one tap
drip drip in the bog beside the back door. Made

out, off my head, with a sweetheart
leaf Philodendron, burnt joss sticks
to placate Kali’s horde
of swords, sweeten
the vibes, man, stench
of cat lit no-one from
the Highgate commune
I crashed in next, ever emptied;
spooned marmalade from a jar

half-full, recycled from a skip. Almost
believed myself deserving of love, till come
the morning, I forgot. My heart tenderised with
grief discovering the night my mother died, love
is an ether you can choke or float in.

Pratibha Castle

Pratibha Castle’s debut award-winning ‘sensual, sacramental’ pamphlet, A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Press) publishes in 2021. Her poems appear in literary journals and online including The Honest Ulsterman, The Blue Nib, One Hand Clapping, Impspired, Fragmented Voices, Sarasvati, Reach, Fly on the Wall, Words for the Wild. She has work forthcoming in Agenda, Dreich Magazine and Dreich Special ‘Summer Anywhere’, and Beyond Words. Shortlisted in poetry competitions, winner of 2009 NADFAS poetry competition, with work anthologised, Castle broadcasts regularly on West Wilts Radio, The Poetry Place. Irish born, relocated to England 1953, she now lives in West Sussex.

‘The Only One Who Loves You’ was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (January 2021) judged by Oz Hardwick.

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