the tick of a clock
‘It doesn’t matter anymore,’ he says with his back to me.
He was looking out of the bay window when I got out of the car and waved and I thought he hadn’t seen me. ‘Dad, I thought about calling you back,’ I say, ‘but it was late when I got in and I didn’t want to wake you.’
He parts the net curtain as if something in the street has caught his attention.
‘Look, I’m sorry. If I’d known it was such a big thing I would have called.’
He turns round at this. ‘A big thing? I’m not “a big thing”…’ and his voice breaks.
When did my dad get so old? He walks in small tight steps, wears two cardigans to keep warm. He calls me if his newspaper is late.
I walk over to him and put my arm around his shoulders. ‘Dad, c’mon,’ I say, ‘you know I love you. You know that.’ He trembles like a child caught in the rain.
When I was little he always had a hankie for me. He’d press the smooth cotton to my nose and say, ‘Blow’. I search in my bag and hand him what he needs for now.
shuffle along the path
Blue Tattoo November 2007
through the café window
the glitter of rain
That’s what she told me when she came home.
It was already dark. Everyone had left except for the old man. She turned the ‘Closed’ sign to face the street, wiped down all the other tables, emptied ashtrays, refilled ketchup bottles, and straightened the plastic menus. She went out back for the steel pail and mop and washed the floor. The old man had his back to her. Five to six.
‘Have you finished, love?’ she said.
She walked over to him. ‘I’ve got to lock up now.’
‘Five minutes,’ he said without looking at her.
She leant against the counter and watched the traffic lights change on the High Street.
At six, as usual, the old man got up from his table.
‘See you tomorrow,’ she said.
The bell on the door clattered.
She slurried the mop around where he’d been sitting. She picked up his mug and left it in the sink. She dropped the crumpled sugar packets in her overall pocket because she’d already taken out the rubbish.
And that’s when she saw them. After she’d turned out the main lights, just as she was opening the door.
a black umbrella
blows inside out — too late
to say sorry
Blue Tattoo November 2007
he thinks I should wear
the blue skirt, not jeans
Stylus October 2007
‘I know, let me!’ my granddaughter interrupts, and the story is hers now: mermaids and black rocks, a girl dragged under the wild frothing sea. ‘Your turn,’ she says as we take a cobbled street into the town, away from the sea-wind.
I could let the girl drown, the mermaid’s cold arms wrapped around her tight as weed, her breath racing away to the surface of the sea, and pass back this story of danger and treachery. But not yet. She can breathe under water, will wake up the next morning with a necklace of pink seashells, proof that the unbelievable sometimes happens.
surprised by seagulls
flying between stars
French Literary Review Autumn 2007
a black cat in the shade
of a whitewashed wall
Modern Haiku 38.3 Autumn 2007
The curved pale plains of male and female calves. Tattoos snaking past the waistbands of jeans. Shoulders with spaghetti straps. So much skin on the streets of Antibes today. At the supermarket checkout, a blonde girl in cream shorts and flip-flops. My boots suddenly feel too heavy, too warm, my own calves resentful of their prison of lycra and suede as I head down Boulevard Albert towards the sparkling sea. So very far away, that harsh northern climate with its cold wet winds I expected to be tramping through. At the bakery door, the smell of crème anglais and caramelised apples. A woman hands me a fresh baguette wrapped in a twist of paper, brushes a wisp of hair from her damp cheek. Il fait chaud, she sighs.
I paint my toenails red
at the back of my knees
French Literary Review September 2007
She’s still with me while I drive home. Her pale blue coat, how her shoulders were a little hunched. And the way her eyes and cheeks, not only her lips, carried her smile, how it seemed rooted below her skin.
Today, I am still thinking about her. Thinking I should smile more. Thinking about softness.
the shadow of a leaf touches
Roadrunner February 2007
I was making sandcastles on the beach when I told my friend Kathryn about our new fridge and she hit me over the head with a long-handled spade and ran home crying. My mother said Kathryn didn’t like me being different from her. And we were different now. Our butter was hard. We had frozen peas.
Planet February 2007
Chairs are stubbornly empty of her – the wooden bench in the garden, the pine carver at the kitchen table, the small upholstered armchair that fitted her exactly, the curve of its sides mirroring the slope of her shoulders as she sat knitting, fingers tugging and twisting a length of wool.
break in the clouds
a shadow runs
across the lawn
each time I come home
my mother is shorter
Contemporary Haibun Online, December 2006
Contemporary Haibun 8 (2007)
the room darkens
a scuttle of sparrows
in the eaves
Simply Haiku vol 4 no 4, November 2006
big sky, Red Moon Press 2007