Eleanor Margolies – Two Poems

A question about the quality of self-closing gates

The self-closing gate:
resists opening
springs closed
frustrates free-running dogs
provides no obstacle to owners bringing in dogs against the regulations
encourages laziness
recognises human failings
is a benign spirit, guardian of the dog-free garden
requires regular offerings of three-in-one
represents the eternal comings and goings of life, the spring and fall
is a costly, capricious invention
is no substitute for neighbourliness
enables quiet enjoyment
is a gate-keeper in loco park-keeperentis
protects against all that runs wild (except foxes, children, cats, rats, snails, birds, etcetera)
protects us from rancour at things left open, unfinished


The women in the carriage were clanking
westwards, talking over each other
as we all shuddered underground, when
one of them remembered last summer:
‘And we had your meringues…’

Sweet frivolity. It filled the air,
the insubstantial lasting in us.

Eleanor Margolies lives and works in London, and is currently working on a book about props in theatre.

Eleanor Margolies – Before you eat your porridge,

Before you eat your porridge,

Before you eat your porridge,
while you have your coffee,
pretend the kitchen is a coffee shop.
Say to yourself: I like the way
they’ve put plants on the window sill
and the heap of papers,
full of seasonal self-improvement.
Think how much you could save:
drink coffee at home, bring sandwiches
to work, and best of all, eat porridge instead.
They don’t sing about ‘the life you can save’.
They don’t ask: wouldn’t you rescue
someone drowning in a pond
in front of you? What’s the difference?
It would be other sections that describe
January in Sierra Leone, the rains just finished,
green everywhere, sweat
running into the doctors’ eyes
behind Perspex visors.
A twelve-year-old girl who died
was dry and hot and cachectic:
‘a condition of the body in which
nutrition is everywhere defective’.
I might wish they kept this place a little warmer,
but it has a view: the corner of the street,
my neighbours waiting for the bus.
A little girl practises ballet steps.
And now the police. A man with hands cuffed.
Two men come out to see what’s going on.
They all stand by the wall a long time,
talking. From here it looks idle
but it could be life and death. They wait.
By this time next year, the view will be gone,
a new building will hide the street corner.
I tell myself the view will be different.

Eleanor Margolies lives and works in London, and is currently working on a book about props in theatre.’