a draft thing

So here’s a thing, a draft thing.  I’m not sure who the characters are; I can probably guess their ages, but not genders as yet, but I know they’re close to each other.  It’s been a long time since I’ve written any long prose; it’s a bit like being drunk or lost; easy to fall into; harder to get out.

Hearth

The hearth is warm stone; made so by the passage of years, each autumn in its turn, every fire that we left to burn overnight.  The dog grate is new, or relatively so, pock marked only by a little rust, a year or two of spring rains falling hard through the uncapped chimney.  Its metal feet sit less than square against the mortared joints of the flags.

You’re not far away; the heart-beat irregular lick of the flames begins against charcoal embers.  Beneath the grate is clean, carefully so.  As you started the fire you stood here, leaving behind a few leaves from the dark garden, trapped now beneath the coal bucket; extra random reds against this year’s rag rug.  These scents followed you in; sunshine against October damp, pruned apple wood, thick grease from the gate.

Over the chair hangs the green camouflage jacket that we’ve both worn at different times.  In the left pocket there will be jute from the garden.  My hands remember the harsh thread; the days spent waiting for your return; my fingers busy making hard, unstructured knots.   There will be cigarettes in the inside pocket, yours, from the spring.  Half hidden in a mutual deception as to how much you still smoke.

There’s not much of my tour guide work remaining now; just the Saturday mornings.  This has left my reading to slide into an untidy heap; periodicals and books; occasional newspaper clippings.  It will wait now for the cold nights.  You’ve left the post on the chair.  Unopened.  I see a bill and some stupid circulars.

They go, where they live, on the kitchen side but avoiding a small run of condensation from the kettle.  Beads of water grow on the white metal finish.  By it the old pyrex bowl holds batter, the sugar jar sits by it, my favourite pan is shiny with melted butter.  And I know you’ve gone out for oranges.

 

Middle of Nowhere

A poem because my cat died.  My cat that saw me into an empty house of an evening for ten years of workdays and sat with me on afternoon for eight years of children.  I smashed some old teacups and it didn’t work, suspect you have to use the best ones.

 

Middle of Nowhere

Summer sky through green leaves suspended,
hammock swinging, bare foot and shoulder;
absent without leave from my own life.
Smashed pots lie quiet by the wall.

Birds sing verses of ordinary pleasures,
cars park in the street, children laugh;
the kitchen clock marks continual hunger.
A raven pours her blue eye over me.

Favoured notebook and blue pen by me,
tea cooling, the quiet house beyond;
this space too small for maps or legends.
Reason’s left me ringing empty.

Deja Vu and 1918.Une Montre

So.  I underwrite.  Not a wasted word or overstated sentiment.  Which is grand, except that sometimes it renders what I write incomprehensibly abstract, obscure, evasive.

So here are two poems that centre round the same idea of emotional return.  The shorter one I wrote first.  And then a friend remarked upon the abstract nature of what I write and I saw that, for what it sometimes is, a kind of cowardice.  So I wrote the second one.

As ever, all feedback humbly appreciated.

Deja Vu

Already I
heard the wheat rise with the sun,
flirted with your well shaped phrase.
Dreamed these pictures,
read the signs;

went away.

Already I
salted squash to watch it weep,
shared cheese, broke bread, kept the faith.
Counted the stars,
heard the song;

went away.

I can see Saturn’s oceans,
a boat house lying empty,
packed tack and stored limes,
the perfect stormy course.

 

1918
Une montre

My great grandad; short, yorkshire stone and dour, back from war.
His spoils; medals, a hatred of adventure, a gift for his youngest.
For the twelfth child of a long settled traveller; badly housed, poor;
a treasure wrapped in muslin, in a oxo tin.  A diamanté watch.

And a stew of phrases; san fairy ann, TTFN, the quality of mercy.
But une montre to wear with dark hair, blue eyes, flappers beads,
to time her batting for the county team, for dark-room work days.
Till the workings failed and it shone only in the past tense.

She told this last grandchild of that watch, of other ways and roads.
Over years we scrapped carbon from toast, watched blossom fall
and she taught me all the French she knew.  Merci beaucoup.
Ca ne fait rien.  A demain.  Je t’aime.  If it pleases you?

And it pleased me, the shape and taste of it; pictures in my head.
Hungry then to learn and for adventure.  To get beyond the 31 bus.
Her lifetime condensed to highlights, thirst and hunger. Defiance.
Added a colour animation to this shy clown; my own subtitles.

I planned and dreamed and grafted.  That working class imperative.
Ambition aimed me, set my sights on London on the way to Paris.
The south of England brought sandals in October. Freedom. Debt.
A taste for cheap wine. Love for a man with blue eyes and dark hair.

As I fell I forgot that unconditional love asks nothing and gives all.
I stayed with him because he asked it.  Gave in, gave up; got lost.
London was enough I said and used false reason to kill hope.
In others nightmares I found restless sleep and sadness.  Ennui.

An echo from a London friend brought me back through years.
“Birds and snakes. An aeroplane. It starts with an earthquake.”
Again I burn toast, listen to the radio and shop for a watch.

I stand on the shoulders of my own gods and dream in colour.