The funeral was over. She was gone. Col stood apart.
We are here for you, the strangers said, taking his hands. He blinked away more tears. Everyone was saying the same. We mourn for you. We feel for you. We are here for you.
The bright Halloween sun gave no warmth. The graveyard was shades of green, each darker than the other. Nearby, mourners. In the distance, crows.
Thank you, he said, and tried subtly to let go of their hands.
No Col, one said, their firm cool grip gently tightening. We are here for you.
His heart slowed. Together they walked away.
branches bend and leave leaves fly
the odour of ice plaited through easterly wind
hearts accelerate, pushing thin blood
the destination, yes, but also the journey
The flight was already an hour late when the queue at the gate finally began to shuffle forward. I eyed the man in the heavy overcoat who, bishop-like, was trying to cut softly in front of me. As I shifted my weight onto my left foot the teenager on my right barged forward, eyes fixed on their phone. It was blatant obstruction, any referee would have called a foul. I stood up straighter and used my additional weight to block them. There. I inched forward, not lifting my feet from the floor. At the gate I had my passport and my boarding card ready and beamed triumphantly.
‘Your carry-on, sir? Where is your carry-on?’
A chill ran through me and I turned round in the crowd. The dog was sitting , eyes fixed on the suitcase. The man in the stab vest was looking our way.
‘I don’t have any’, I said. ‘I don’t have any.’
believe believed belief
bereave bereaved bereft
how a word a thought changed to another
the day you left
horse gallops wayward
in the far distance an arch
new thoughts clench my fist
fly the flag
fly the flag higher
fly the flag high in the sky
tear the flag down
tear it, tear the flag down
tear it, tear the flag to the ground
burn the flag
water the ashes
wash the ashes to the waiting sea
the flag will fly
The Child ran out into the road, monkeys in their arms. For the adults nearby time stopped. The sound of the breeze through the trees was silenced, colours faded and hearts froze. For the Driver thinking of arriving home soon the world would never be the same.
The Child walked into the room, arms full of two toy monkeys, and sat down.
Adult 1 smiled. ‘I like your monkeys.’
‘It’s one monkey and one ape’ said the Child.
‘Oh?’ Adult 1 smiled again. ‘What’s the difference?’
‘Monkeys have tails and apes don’t. And other things.’
‘I see. Thank you. I always wondered.’
The Child smiled and Adult 1’s heart broke.
Adults 1, 2 and 3 introduced themselves. The Child kept turning towards the door.
‘They’re not coming, I’m afraid,’ said Adult 2. ‘They were halfway here when they changed their mind and asked to go back.’
‘But they said they would!’ the Child shouted. ‘They promised.’
‘I’m sorry but you know how it is,’ said Adults 1, 2 and 3 in their different ways.
‘No!’ said the Child. ‘No!’
The Child stood up and ran out of the room and through the front doors. The Adults chased after the Child, shouting the Child’s name. The Child ran out into the road, monkeys in their arms.
One day, he swore,he would explore the west, track the settled sun until it surrendered to the blind-black sky, then follow its path by its reflection in the moon and stars. I shall be a solarnaut, a helionaut, an explorer of the wildest west, where the rivers meet the sanded sea, and the animals finally swim to their nirvana, eyes wide open to the shining ribbon on the squid-ink sea.
Well, I think the light over the gasworks is pretty neat, I said, regretting again going on a date with a poet.
Birds weigh less than air
and force themselves to ground.
A fluttering shake of wings
takes them to the skies again
a cloud a cataract a single point.
I feel my heart follow
soaring through the blueness
I feel my heart follow the birds.