Skip navigation
text size: default | enlarged——servicing readers in 130 plus countries——110 free stories
Genre: Poetry
Back to Previous Page Review This Story Share This Story

Life Is Like That

Part IV. The End

By: Elizabeth Parish

Dark Mirror

On the plain where we live
light and shadows mark
the things we call experience.
We walk across the plain
to reach the shelter of the mountain.
Then we know that we have looked on life
through a glass, darkly.

A Book of Hours

High in a castle tower three women, dressed
in green, and blue, and red, sit
and work, at close of day.
Outside, beneath a star-filled sky,
unseen and unconcerned, their men
involve themselves in wenching or in war.
Eve, Arachne, Isis: in this quiet room,
far from the world of men and their activities,
the women work. They spin
the thread from nothingness, from tufts
and fragments, into a bright and complicated
tapestry, a legend and a history.
It is a woman's fate: to generate
and manufacture life which others live -
Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos.

No Piece of Cake

Stale light
on a plate of bread and butter.
Watch and wait.
A name starts the fight.
Just a name.
Not nice.
That's marriage for you:
No please and thank you,
No soft crumbs,
just doorstep wedges and rock hard crusts.
Can't go back
for cake or biscuits instead.
The whole dish splinters into scraps

Sunday Afternoon

The tideless sea
translucent blue
murmuring long-stored secrets
to the shore lapping the edges
of the shifting beach
a couple walking hand in hand
along the tideline
looking for pair-linked shells
clams mussels pink tellines
whelk-shells with barnacles
their spirals occupied by hermit-crabs
sea makes them singletons
strips them to sand
gritty parchment fit
for lovers' messages
written with a single razor shell
I love you
for ever


You come home at dusk
anticipating dinner,
ready to pour the sherry
or uncork the wine -
leaving your brief-case in the hall
a modern version of the pipe-
and-slippers way of life.
You seldom bring me roses -
only when we disagree
more hurtfully than usual…
But I do appreciate
the Thornton's Continental that you buy
when I need spoiling,
and the way you disappear
the spider from the bath.
We have our own routines:
we sit at either end of the settee
half-watching television;
you do the garden,
I prepare the food,
each bringing offerings
to please the other,
keep the flame alight.
I sometimes wake
and hear you in the night
padding through the sleepless dark
to leave me undisturbed -
and then I lie awake
till you return -
your warm back in the bed.

That Is The Best

It's the little things that make a marriage work.
Not the blaze of passion, nor the heights
of ecstasy - it's the comfortable glow
of shared experience, the mutual recollections,
the same books read. It's bred of matching manners,
the small politenesses around the meals,
breakfast in bed, and brushing out the crumbs
together, brought up by a cast of mind,
feet that tap in concert to a certain tune,
shared laughter at a joke.

About the Author

When I left school in 1957, I was on my way to Manchester, to take an Honours Degree in English - and I have remained in Manchester ever since. After my degree, I took a teaching qualification, and taught for some thirty years.

I am married, with 2 children, and acquired two more with my second husband, Richard Parish, a UMIST professor and a scientist of international repute. I have three grandchildren.

While I was teaching, I helped write a number of pantomimes and pageants, and gained something of a reputation for composing scurrilous verse during training days, so when I retired, I decided to go into Creative Writing. I usually write poetry or short stories, and have contributed to some anthologies.

To top of page