Friday

Blow

the silence of rain
through double-glazing
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.

dad’s slippers
shuffle along the path
windfalls

Blue Tattoo November 2007

Thursday

stone chapel
the bleating of sheep
on a high ridge

Honourable Mention
R H Blyth Award 2007

Tuesday

What’s Unsaid

two people kissing
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
fiftieth year—
‘bikini line’ slips down
my list of things to do

Planet 2007