the China cat

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there is a porcelain jug on our mantlepiece. it is white with gold and copper, and it appeared last week. father moved the pottery house and the China cat to make space, then he gave them to me. they look out of place among my things. he did not tell me where he got it, but Ruth suspects it was a gift.
last month, he brought home a patterned rug. father put it in the study, but Ruth saw it and told me. the month before, a silver bell, and before that, a book about art. father does not need these things. they are useless, really.

i do not care much, but you see, i know the story of the China cat.

i know about Venice and the sunset and the melted ice cream, the smell of the roses and the midnight moon.

i know about the cobbled streets and late night cafes, the cheap coffee and the violinist.

i know about the dark brown dress and pink socks, the laughter on the bridge and the light in the windows.

i know about the footsteps and the songs, the spilt beer on the stones and the rainbow on the ceiling.

i do not know the story of the porcelain jug.

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bus ride

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raindrops tremble like a shoal of fish,
clinging to the cold glass of the window.
the black arm of the wiper
sweeps the unlucky few
to drip down into the smoky grate.
it plays a rhythm against the glass,
squeaking and shuddering
like a factory.
it is dark outside.
it gets dark early now, as the coldness
creeps in.
tall trees batter my window
with their thick, violent branches
as we trundle past,
our gaudy blue and yellow interior
offensive to the rich green
of the woods.
get out of here, the trees shout.
leave us in peace,
we do not want you.
muddy footprints have splattered the floor,
marks left by earlier passengers.
retreating into artificial warmth
for a little respite
against the frozen air,
they are spluttered out again
just as their fingers and toes
begin to thaw.
nobody notices me.
i have sat for hours now, in this spot.
my legs ache, but i have little strength
to move them
and get comfortable.
the bus jerks to a halt at a red light,
spilling its crimson colour into
the watery bodies of the raindrops.
the engine chugs, grating painfully
across my head,
but still i am not moved.
there comes a hiss as the doors open,
and i hear the stomp of heavy boots
climbing aboard.
are they blue boots?
i steal a glance.
blue boots.
i can feel the vomit rising in my throat,
the nausea spreading through
my head,
pulsing at my temples.
but the boots move away,
unphased and untempted by
my presence.
it’s not him.
still, it is not him and my empty heart
cries to be swept away
like the raindrops
and hidden
from view.

red haze

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the splintered bombs
have shattered all that is within
their broken parts cut and scratch
but the blood spills not from shadowed flesh,
the scars and scabs vegetate not
on pale skin.
they are hidden, tucked away, eclipsed
by dime-a-dozen, every-day duties.
they have found a home
somewhere secret –
somewhere silent, yet loud
somewhere mute yet vociferous,
subtle –
yet vicious.
they sit, rolled up
in the darkest corners of the mind.
when they see a brother
or hear the family cry –
the outer skin breaks
and floods,
suffocates the pulse of the lungs,
pollutes the red rivers of the blood,
spreading their poison
through a helpless
consciousness.
the clear sparkle of innocence
is saturated
with infection
like the waters of egypt.
a red haze fidgets
over every
thought.

love

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love is not a to-do list
or a schedule
or a rota
it does not have
deadlines
or plans
or evaluation sheets
it does not run
to a timetable
or calendar
it does not keep time
or order
it does not make sense
or follow suit,
it does not keep track
it does not
make appointments
it smacks you
round the face
and the redness
does not
fade

a breath of christmas

city

a slender slither of moonlight
swings above a sleeping city.
a feathery breeze
freshens the air,
collecting muffled scents
of butter,
cinnamon
and mulled wine.
the scented swathes
drift over red-brick houses,
shiny glass pinnacles
cement-coated castles
and forlorn-looking flats,
leaving its mark.
as it merges with night,
its last breath
rustles the straw
in the roof
of the final
thatched cottage
that sits on the edge of town,
as a reminder
of the way
we used to be.

winter warmth

winter-warmth-candle

the daylight turns shy,
darkness creeps in.
temperature drops,
its a chilly morning.
coats, hats and scarves
sneak into routine.
the sky lies cold,
clear, blue and clean.
miserable weather
hoovers up joy –
yet somewhere lies waiting
a small baby boy.
in the midst of the ice
and the scrooges at home,
a flicker of warmth
ebbs from heaven’s throne.
against all the chill
of the dull winter’s night,
a child is coming
to bring earth new light.

boxes

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being with him
was like spotting that
luxurious, mouth-watering box
of melt-in-your-mouth
chocolate caramels
in the candy store,
giving up your last pennies
to buy it,
resisting the urge to open it
on the bumpy bus ride home
then finally
slicing through the sticky tape,
lifting the golden lid
to find nothing
but rocks.

being
with you
is like opening a shabby old shoebox
and finding it full
with pearls