• Downsizing
    Last night’s rainstorm
    shrank the house.
    It closed down rooms
    now the walls are closing in.
    There’s so much
    we no longer use, nor visit,
    so many rooms
    we no longer enter.
    Almost all my friends
    downsized long ago.
    We are the holdouts.
    We love it here
    in this big house with its lawns
    and trees and flowerbeds
    with bees’ balm, butterflies, birds,
    and the yard abuzz with
    sunshine and bees.
    But now we are starting
    to throw things out.
    Maybe we’ll move,
    next summer perhaps,
    or maybe not.
    For now is the time of indecision.
    Like friends of the same age,
    we travel the road of memory loss,
    a name and a face here,
    a date or phone number there,
    the mandatory
    ‘now where did I put my glasses?’
    Perhaps, when the time comes,
    we’ll forget we meant to move.


Avila 2007a 039


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!”