A Friend and a Father

I remember lying on my bed looking out the window

Two pigeons on a ledge

No sheet on the mattress

I was changing it

You called.

Your father is dying.

We talk

I offer you what I can

Not much

I listen

You do not cry, you won’t yet.

Making your armour with words.

I listen.

You talk.

I never met your father.

Though I feel I have

When you talk of him now your eyes shine

With the wetness of tears

But also with a fondness

A love unique.

Highway code

Overtaking me at the junction at a right hand turn.

I need to learn the highway code

I am a dopey woman

a prick

Your Aston Martin

Isn’t it lovely big and black

You in your suit and your pinstripe shirt

slamming your horn

Mansplaining

Your partner sitting next to you chiming in with unsisterhoodly remarks.

Cool headed with my flat rear tire

I know the highway code

I am avoiding a serious puncture

My words rundown by your slurs on my character

Heating up

Cold flat surface under my finger tips

Reflexes pull at my hand

At your wing mirror

Prick

Wanker

We have demeaned us both.

Hen Hangover

World outside my window, bosom shelves and cupcakes, salt and vinegar crisps with semi skimmed milk.

Slug trails on trees like trace glitter from a hen party clinging to your breasts.

Shrill screams and L-plates. Waves of love slosh and swirl around your wine glass, even if you like the Sainsbury’s basics best.

Ping, a basket through a red door, a yowl from a small cat.

Sky so piercing and blue you could stand on the edge of the window ledge and push off up into it.

One day you will.

70s disco overthrown by Robbie Williams and the Sugar Babes.

Blue cheese and cheddar rise and fall on a tide of prosecco as a miniature pink tumescence winks at you from the hall table – go on eat me.

With your brain dancing harder than you feet you face plant the pillow, settling down to thumping music and joyful screaming.

 

Love      is        in        the       air.

 

 

Memory

Lilac turning brown

Fibres merging

Mashing together

Stiff with dirt

 

Fingers shifting over backs of hands

Squeeze a ball of wool

Gently

 

What’s in this box?

Mince pies

 

Dates and butter on white bread

Crumbs slide purposely to the floor

Out comes Henry

 

Dragging the weight up stairs

Do you want a bath or a shower?

The towels are just here

 

Run the hoover over green carpets

Crumbs and dust

A cup of tea

 

There are apples on the side there

Sharron fruit

Mottled orange skin

Sliding onto black felt

 

What’s in this box?

Mince pies

Father

Opposite

turning your ear

and hearing my words

 

Content and peaceful

we are sitting here

glass walls, ice drafts

 

Floating words

branch to branch

slow but not awkward

 

Savouring time

Frames sealed in my mind

safety with you

 

Ice rests on my feet

better shoes, toe tapping, warmer socks

you’re right

 

Buy books, and more

shared words

shared smiles

 

Finger stinging

sagging rubber, sharp spokes

permanent puncture, squealing breaks

 

Carmine face

chapped hands

and boiled water

 

Radiators armed against the cold

seeps in across floors. Crack.

a stylus in a haystack

 

Wheeling down a grey stair

lemons tumble into a frame

a contented sigh.

 

Common 

Trees rustle as they are

Teased and undressed

By the autumn wind

Sky like a palette of

Blues, golds, pinks and oranges

Scraped by a painters tooth comb

Illuminated plane trails

Crossed by birds in flight

Paths across the earth 

Heavy weighted breath

A flash of fluorescent orange

Pounds across the grass

Fox

Found out lying next to the bin by dad

No eyes with bared teeth

Hit by a car and slunk here to die

Your tail brushed my skin as you fell head first into the black bin bag

Softness rarely felt accompanied by a squeal and a glare

The bag was stretched wide for you like an open mouth, and swallowed you whole

Your form was rigid and comic, your four limbs outstretched

Frozen whilst running

The size of a house cat, you could not have been that old

You were buried unceremoniously with yoghurt, bits of cereal and a couple of crisp packets

You beautiful elegant creature.

Swim

The promise of a wild swim had drawn us down to the dried up bed of the Rio Higueron. Traversing the steep slopes through mango and avocado groves like cumbersome mountain goats, I realised where you go down you have to come back up. A daunting prospect even in the late afternoon in Southern Spain, the concrete still hot enough to slowly fry an egg. But we were committed to finding the Pozo Batan, a small reservoir that I had read about before arriving in Frigiliana. Strolling along I began to fantasise about the soft cold water rinsing the film of dust and sweat from my arms and legs. I imagined the suspension of my body, blissful weightlessness, completely connected to the water.

 

Growing up on the coast in South Wales, I have always felt an affinity with water. This relationship is materialised by a habit I indulge when visiting bodies of water. I collect small stones, pebbles and shells, just one from each location. In limiting myself to one I not only ensure my collection remains manageable, but I also placate my mum and dad who are increasingly irritated by my substantial and growing collection.

 

Each step brought us closer to the pool; I could almost feel the water now. Earlier that day my mum had inferred that out of fear of potential drownings in a secluded spot, the local council might have fenced off my oasis. Ignoring the niggling voice in my head and hoping the rumours proved false I forged on along the basin.

 

The sun passing behind the top of the valley submerged us in warm shade as we followed the natural curving line of the arid riverbed. Rounding the apex my face fell. Huge iron fences, at least two and a half meters high, rusted in the evening light. We would not be swimming. The water was a true blue, even turquoise in the shallower sunny spots. But I was not in it: looking at it and walking around it, but not in it. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a car, my pulse quickened, it was a police car. Despite knowing that we weren’t breaking any laws my mouth became dry and my palms slippery. I was beginning to form sentences in my head, explaining that we were only looking and not trying to break-in (even though I wanted to). The officers started their engine, rolling over the uneven ground towards us. I held my breath as we moved between the bushes and shrubs obscuring their view. Several scenarios most involving my arrest and or death forced themselves through my mind. Ultimately my anxiety proved completely unnecessary as the car just crunched off down the riverbed and out of sight.

 

 

Turning back to my oasis, finding the feeding river, we followed it upstream. “What would we do if a wild dog were to attack us right now?” My mum’s throwaway comment set my amygdala to high alert, finding that my head didn’t want me to follow the stream further I sat down beside it. Tentatively I reached down and let the flow course around my fingertips (hoping I wouldn’t find it was a stream of sulphuric acid, it wasn’t). Benign, cool and soft, it would have been perfect for swimming in.

 

Dejected we walked back along the basin toward the roads snaking up the sides of the valley and to our “apartamento”. Absentmindedly my eyes scanned the ground and there it was, my stone. Our walk wouldn’t be fruitless after all. It was a perfect fit, cool and reassuringly heavy in my hand, a perfect swap for the lost promise of a swim.

IMG_20160815_182115
Stone, Rio Higueron, 2016

I like to think that my anxious thoughts about electric fences and electrified or poisoned water wouldn’t have stopped me from swimming, I can’t be sure but they would certainly have made me hesitant. I recall fleeting feelings of relief as I realised the pool was inaccessible. I would not have to overcome my anxiety or ‘expose’ it. Now I wish I had been able to, but I will have to be content with the stone. The next time I come across an oasis I will swim in it.

 

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