Mysterious Mist

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Mysterious Mist

Mysterious mist,
how I have missed you
wrapping and unwrapping
your gifts of seashore and sand.

So delicate, your will o’the wisp touch,
your fingers dampening my curls,
a delicacy of delight your butterfly kiss
laid upon forehead and cheek.

A distorting mirror in a circus
or a sideshow at the fair,
you twist things round your little fingers,
complicating our simple lives,
shape-changing them with dreams
and visions conjured from thin air.

Now you are here again, in my garden.
I welcome your presence among the trees,
your spirit enveloping the bees’ balm,
your crowning gift, soft-toned cone-flowers
where Monarch butterflies drift and reign.

Torticollis

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Torticollis

A sudden crick of the neck and I am back in the chalet at Perines with Trini.

“Torticollis,” she says, raising a hand to her neck, except she says it in Spanish, ‘tortículis’.

She offers me tea, very English, from the Wedgewood tea pot I brought her, all those years ago. Beside her, the Pirate with the Parrot on his Shoulder, my Toby Jug, still stands on guard, and protects my memories.

Orphaned, I was, from England, abandoned on that Spanish shore, and left there all summer to learn the language. Trini taught me how to eat, speak, choose my books and my friends … she had lost a son, same age as me, just after the Civil War, and treated me like her son, returned, like the Prodigal Son I was to all who had sent me away from home to improve my lifestyle and my manners.

Wanted? Unwanted by my family? I wouldn’t know the difference.

In that far-of land, in time and space,  I only knew the loneliness of being lost, marooned in a foreign land, feeling my way, day by day, among foreigners, still foreign, although they took me into their homes and hearts and loved me as I had never been loved before.

Back home, drowsing  at the kitchen table, I doze into my dreams, only to be woken by that beloved voice.

Wistful, I turn my head and glance backwards into that past of sunshine and beaches, where the sun sparkled on hill, sand, and sea and the table cloth was spread on the family table, pure and white, with a dozen of us sitting, talking, smiling, drinking wine, that bottled sunshine that still adorns my dining room table.

“Trini? Is that you?”

Her name slips from my lips as I snap my head towards her voice. As I turn, I twist my neck and raising my hand to the sudden pain, I hear again that word: “¡Tortículis!”

Battle Axe

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Battle Axe

A battle axe, the children call her,
grim-faced, ageing, wrinkles
bone-deep scarring her skin,
a grimaced frown, much practiced,
worn like a fencing mask to keep
the world’s sharp teeth at a distance.

Over her shoulder, the mail-pouch
slung like a Viking’s shield,
swung to keep stray dogs at bay.
At her hip, mace and pepper,
twin guns in separate holsters, ready
for Rotty,  cross-breed, and Pit Bull.

Wrapped in her coat of mail,
her eyes aflame, trigger finger twitching,
ever on the lookout for that one wild dog
to run the gauntlet of her gaze
and launch its all-out, mad dog attack.

Comment: I was disappointed with my earlier version(s) of this poem, entitled Mail Lady, and wanted a stronger, more forceful set of images that hinted at the perils of dog attacks on mail (and fe-mail [sic]) workers. This is the result.

Mail Lady

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Mail Lady

She walks past me, eyes cast down,
her warrior eyes unwilling to run
the gauntlet of my challenging gaze.

A battle axe, the children call her,
grim-faced, ageing, wrinkles
bone-deep sculpting her skin,
a grimaced frown, much practiced,
worn like a fencing mask to keep
the world’s sharp blades at a distance.

Over her shoulder, the mail-pouch
slung like a berserker’s shield,
brimful of letters,
bills in all probability,
yet exact contents unknown
until thumb or paper-knife
slits the envelope to reveal
the sanctity of its secrets.

Secrets: what secrets
does she carry inside her skin:
hope and joy or sorrow and tears?

She walks past me,
wrapped her in her coat of mail,
staring at the ground beneath her feet..
When she looks up,
a feral ferocity burns in her eyes.
I cannot match the fierceness of her gaze.

 

Photos

Books

Photos

After eight years of retirement
I still have most of my books.
I keep them in the basement,
where no lights shine on the shelves.

Every day, when I come down to read,
I find more books than the day before.
I think they copulate in the dark.

At night, when I turn the lights off,
I can hear them all chattering,
and clattering away. At first, I thought
they were faking it, like human beings.

Now I am not so sure. What are they doing
as they lie there beneath their covers?

Books, a generic term:
I fear the dictionaries are worst,
lining things up in alphabetical order.
Then I wonder about the mysteries,
the philosophies, the religious tracts
that are hell-bent on controlling others,
but are notorious for not controlling themselves.

Whatever are they up to, I wonder,
as they rustle their pages and mutter
to each other on their shelves.

I have a collection of art books
with pictures of unclothed statues ,
not to mention real, naked people.
I am afraid to look at the photos.

Two Dogs and a Deer

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Two Dogs and a Deer
(Cherry, Hanna, Jasper, and Lucinda)

Two dogs and a deer:
the deer, heart in mouth,
bounding away from the lawn
seeking cover in the trees.

The gold dog bounding too,
a rocking-horse bounce,
from back to front, lurching,
falling behind the black dog,
the latter, smooth as a train.

The enemy having fled,
shoulder to shoulder they return,
across the green grass of the field,
the victors, side by side, panting,
sides heaving, triumphant, grinning.

What heartbreak as these memories
fade and fall behind. Long may they
linger in my dreaming mind.

Mont Blanc

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Mont Blanc
(for Chuck Bowie)

“But what is that stick-like thing
between notebooks and mouse?”

“That stick-thing by my mouse,
as you so elegantly phrase it,
is my Mont Blanc fountain pen.

It’s also a metaphor app.
You stick the blunt end in your ear
to wind up your brain,
then you carefully clean
the tip on a piece of paper.

If it leaves suitable marks,
you read them like Runes
and use them to create metaphors.

You can also use it to conduct music
or to take a thin, blue line for a walk.
It’s very useful for poets who don’t like
staring at computer screens, and with one
they rarely suffer from writer’s block.”