Back to school

There’s tension on the tenement stairs. None of the doors are yet open but you can feel it. Slow time passes. A snag of August rain sweeps in as the street door opens. The first silent children set off for the first day of school, faces pale, clothes for the year too baggy.

The coffin was heavy

The coffin was heavy and carried on shoulders, the men’s arms linked at the elbow. Their faces shone with sweat. At the door of the church they had to jostle their way though the onlookers and their umbrellas. It had started to rain again. The family followed, their faces streaked wet. The church had been full.

The rain was fine and persistent. People looked down the road as it curved round behind the town wall and disappeared towards the cemetery. A few women decided then not to go on, they turned left or right and into their houses, shaking their umbrellas and loosening their scarves. They closed the shutter doors behind them.

The procession disappeared into the distance as the single bell tolled, its echoes rolling along the narrow streets of closed shutters. Later, the smell of the rain on the dust still strong, the town would begin to breathe again and the people of the procession would return as individuals or pairs, freed from the magnetics of the dead.

They would drink coffee and tell quiet stories until the clouds cleared, as they inevitably would.


Mirror moon

He knelt on the wet grass and looked down at the silver-plated tray.In the darkness he saw the moon’s face reflected. There, I’ve caught it, he whispered. The spirits of the field did not correct him but smiled quietly and pressed forefingers to lips. His eyes were wide and then they closed and he fell to his side. The spirits smiled at him and at the tray. The next morning it would be in the house again, ready aligned to catch the first rays of the moon as they passed through the trees.