I’m very English sometimes, apologising to the stranger staggering by, shoulder swung into mine, sorry caught in the air with the dust cloud he trails. So I’ll repeat in case repetition makes up for distance, for an inability to find fire until much later on when I am a city or more away and still thinking about bone and muscle and a sharp snap of ‘move now!’ No please.
I braided a basket of my fingers, in case I was required to catch you if you fell from any sort of height or perhaps needed a boost to reach a shelf or a step on a ladder I could hold once I’d unwoven these hands to grip the rungs better if you eventually decide to climb.
Someone comments that she’d never really worked. Not a proper job. Not a nine-to-five, sit down at a desk, shuffle the papers, count the numbers, find the words sort of job. She just ‘helped’ her parents in their shop, then ‘helped’ her husband. At Christmas my mother, her daughter, takes the carving knife. Skills become ingrained when you park a pram in the backroom of a butcher’s. They get passed down on generation to the next. Not always perfect, but present like the bark and callous of their hands when they take mine. Evidence of everything they’ve given. She says she never really worked a proper job, not a nine-to-five, like I have. Passes me the cutter for scones that won’t be as good as her mother’s, because she hasn’t got the knack like she had. She was only ever ‘helping’ not working, not like her daughter does, not like I do. She was only ever there in the background. Autumn is not Spring, but beauty still grows in her and there is worth there.
Belly stretched bare to sun, these hands could be paws when fingers curl in to palms, padding softly, or soft patter of rain on skin, water caught in fur till I shrug free this coat and the weight of me trapped inside of it.
One paragraph for all the lost bodies, somewhere still beneath dirt and grass and the slow trundle of grazing cattle meandering, one fence line to another. Musket balls get plucked up on odd days, rolled across a palm like a marble, dropped into a Tupperware tub, they outlasted the bones and flesh. A field with five hundred years to forget yet the calf gets sick with lead loses its eyesight to a pellet from a gun fired half a century before. History reaches past its paragraph of three thousand nameless men. Another misery of litter leftover once the war was done. Following tonight’s theme of smoke and mirrors, and feeling like the older you get, the less you actually know, I started thinking about how we learn about the history of warfare in schools. There’s a disconnect between the modern day and its wars, and battles such as the one at Bloor Heath* in Staffordshire where around three thousand men are thought to have died in the fighting. It’s easy to look …
These wings don’t go far, or high much. They rustle the leaves in the hedge when summer sits about, the branches when summer has flit south. There is something to be said for roots over wings. For a spot to return to each time, when it’s warm or cold and I don’t want to go far or high very much.
If I spoke with hysterical authority, held firm with fragile voice, shattered the glass of your skull screeching banshee screams despite nothing really being dead, would you change. Could my voice be enough to show you the fragmented reflection your kind has made me.
When the trainer asks ‘did you forget to breath’ it sounds stupid, and unfortunately true. A little like thinking too much about the doing so the thoughts twist knots into your limbs. The panic welling in much the same way as your lungs swelling up against your rib-cage. You were sure you were, then you’re not sure, suddenly so unsure you can’t even breath without counting each gasp. In… out… in… in… out.. out.. In… In… In… Out… Out… Out.. …
When it was good he could trace his name through freckles on her back. Could see all the ways he belonged in that bed, with her, in that house. Until belong became belong to, possession possessed in that bed, in that house by her.
She put it to the back of a wardrobe, in a bag of mismatched things, none of any use these days but none the sort you throw away. The sort you keep until they’re found by curious small hands cooped up by the rain on window panes. Discovering you before them.