(Poem No.32 of my favourite short poems)
Today’s poem was written by MARTIN ARMSTRONG, who was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1882. He was educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College Cambridge. His first publication of poems appeared in 1912. During 1914-1915 he served in France on the Western Front, in, first the 2nd Artist Rifles, then he was commissioned into the 8th Middlesex Regiment from 1915 until the end of the war. His book. ‘Buzzards and other Poems’ was published in 1921. Martin Armstrong died in 1974.
Mrs Reece Laughs
Laughter, with us, is no great undertaking;
A sudden wave that breaks and dies in breaking.
Laughter with Mrs. Reece is much less simple:
It germinates, it spreads, dimple by dimple,
From small beginnings, things of easy girth,
To formidable redundancies of mirth.
Clusters of subterranean chuckles rise,
And presently the circles of her eyes
Close into slits and all the woman heaves,
As a great elm with all its mounds of leaves
Wallows before the storm. From hidden sources
A mustering of blind volcanic forces
Takes her and shakes her till she sobs and gapes.
Then all that load of bottled mirth escapes
In one wild crow, a lifting of huge hands
And creaking stays, a visage that expands
In scarlet ridge and furrow. Thence collapse,
A hanging head, a feeble hand that flaps
An apron-end to stir an air and waft.
A steaming face . . . And Mrs. Reece has laughed.