Welcome to my A-Z 2018, for which I am revisiting Africa, the continent of my childhood and my dreams. The posts are, as always, infoheavy and opinionated, but they are sectioned off - some music, the day’s topic, couple writers, a slideshow from the safaris – plenty ways to cherry-pick. So you may consume just as much, or as little, as you're cool with. Zero obligation to agree with any of my views either, feel free to air yours :)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Drizzle







Way out, beyond every city limit
far in the hills, peace drizzles through the leaves
just ahead on the ribbon of the road
and no-one seems to catch up with it;
the sodden pathways gleam, a sudden mist
in luminescent white washes the spun weaves
of a delicate truth, heavily bedewed
with the rain, trembling and restless.









Friday, 26 July 2013

Wordless








The heart’s full
the lips sealed
the fingers still
of their own accord.
Far away, a rainbow sky
chooses me as I pass by
and neither side says a word.







 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

RFW July - Honeymoon






It’s time to head back to Romantic Friday Writers, where the challenge for July is Honeymoon, following on most naturally from where the June one ended. I am posting my flash bang in the middle of my nth mini-moon to the Himalayas, and majorly apt it feels to me too. :)

As always, look forward to your feedback and of course reading the entries, when I get back to my own laptop.

 
The Right Words
I didn’t think of Paul, or his hometown very often, so it was a shock when Chet finally told me.  I had to think for a split second why the destination made me uneasy, felt ominous somehow, more significant than I could immediately pinpoint.  Then I remembered and my brain went into a tailspin, one memory among the whole rising like a black plume of smoke.
Chet stood non-plussed meanwhile, the knot in his forehead made the breath snag in my throat.  It always did.
“What’s the matter, Savvy? You haven’t been there, have you? Do you want the bookings changed?”
“No, I haven’t been there” I tried to figure out the right words, but there weren’t any, “it’s fine, really.”
His frown smoothened. Should I tell him? Wouldn’t that make it seem more important than it was? I dithered; the chance passed.  It was a memory I was happy to forget, I had buried it deep.  It was all so long ago.
 
 
Paul and I met at Perugia, both of us out of our respective hometowns and I massively out of my depth.  We were both doing language programmes, both lonely.  I talked to him about my island home, and he told me about his.  He was on a sabbatical, an air-traffic-controller or a coastguard or something, studying Italian to better his career graph.  I didn’t have any job experience, or any experience for that matter, just a meagre scholarship.
Soon I was in love with that asphyxiating desperation only youth can muster.  We spent more and more time together, I spent more and more of my scholarship money on things most unscholarly, it’s a familiar story.  The only difference was the end.  Instead of the usual dust up, Paul robbed me, then beat me almost to death, and left for good.  Friends picked up my pieces and put them back together.  I had failed my exams, had no money, had no stomach to ask my parents back home for help or explain the whole sordid saga.  So I made a patchy recovery, stayed on and worked at whatever meanly-paid jobs I could find.  I lost my self-esteem, but I managed the degree.   
I left Perugia a year later, came back home.  I never mentioned Paul to anyone.  My parents were puzzled, but they attributed the changes to my being away, alone, among strangers.  I never corrected them, didn’t see the use.  The nightmares persisted for some years.  I avoided going out, avoided men.  But time coats the most excruciating memories with the tarnish of forgetfulness, fades every scar.  There were others later, who helped rub them out.  It had been a long time.
 
 
Chet was the guy next door.  He moved in and on the first evening knocked to ask for coffee because his wasn’t organised.  We kind of fell into the habit of seeing each other.  He wooed me slowly, as though he had all the time in the world, and  he'd flash me that high-voltage slow smile making my heart turn over.
This time love washed over me in an insidious tide, I never quite knew when the waters got so deep, so thrillingly high.  Yet there was also a coming to rest, a firmly grounded, bone-deep contentment in the very centrepoint of my life.  When he brought up the idea of marriage, I didn’t even have to think.  I was the wedding planner, it was going to be a simple one anyway. Chet ran a travel business, so naturally his were the honeymoon arrangements.  He had asked my preferences a few times, diffident, wanting to please. “Surprise me,” I had said breezily.  And so he had, and how!
 
The wedding was a blur.  I tried to look suitably dignified, but probably smiled too wide and too much.  Chet’s hand at my waist rested with an authority I’d never experienced before, his fingers taking the moonstone clips from my hair later had an entirely new tenderness.  In all that time, among the people, and then away from them, I never figured out the right words.  Not even when Chet kissed my scar.
The flight out was uneventful but I felt edgy for no logical reason.  I had a brand new husband who loved me passionately, and who I loved as deeply, life was as good as it can possibly get.  What were the chances of something going wrong?
It was a fine, clear day and the island sat like a jewel embedded in a turquoise sea.  We landed and came through to the customs from the baggage carousel.
“Welcome to Valletta, ma’am, can I just have your bag in the scanner for a minute?”
The voice was the same.  I looked straight at the same face that had looked at me as I had coughed blood and fainted, only then I hadn’t noticed how sly his smile was, how cruel his eyes set deep in their sockets.  I saw them widen and knew that I too had been recognised.  I checked the name tag, but it was totally superfluous.
“Savannah? Savvy?”
“Paul.”
I had expected to be nervous, too freaked out to think straight, but my voice was steady.  I had forgotten, he was a customs officer.  From the look of it, his sabbatical hadn’t helped his career graph much.  I turned to Chet, his forehead was knotting up in that delicious way again.
“Chet, this is Paul.  We studied together at Perugia. I was lovesick for him once, but got cured after he beat me to a pulp. He’s the one who gave me that scar.”
I didn’t speak especially loud, but the words carried.  Another officer looked around, astonished.  No-one said anything.  Our cases came through the baggage X-ray.  I grasped Chet’s hand and drew him close, my heart soaring at the firm squeeze he gave my fingers.  Paul remained frozen, his mouth agape.  We picked up the bags, walked on and out into the sunshine.
 
 
WC - 995
FCA 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Weeds ( Leaves, not just of grass III)





Is it a weed if it blooms? some oversmart-aleck
doodles on some bricks, and many years pass
the mortar shrinks, the bricks smile up a crack
the purple flowered vine slowly chokes the grass


the trees grow rings, leaves carpet the deck
layer on layer, one for each year, amass
the tales of seasons written on their backs
and there’s the graffiti, barefaced and flash


that doesn’t fade, and there’s no-one to check
how fast flowers go, and how long graffiti has
how large the effrontery of humans, how black
their writing, the exact depth of a minute’s sass


fourteen bricks fallen in a heap, and maybe
rudiments of insolence, or philosophy.









Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Absences (Leaves, not just of grass II)






No-one’s opened the windows for a year
the air hangs heavy with absences
stuck hinges reinforce the atmosphere
the door swings open as though you are here
but the rooms are hunched empty, and the sun winces.


I wipe sills clean, polish the panes and clear
the leaf-drop of a season, the silences
of sparse urban streetlights, a few austere
threads of cobwebs on a chandelier
and then check once more the smoothness of hinges.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Leaves, not just of grass





No-one’s lived here for more than a year
the garden’s gone wild and overgrown
so I tell the gardener to trim it clear
I want the shrubs tidied, the grasses mown.

 

He brings his step ladder and pruning shears
and gets to work on the plants and the lawn;
the trim takes him a couple hours or near
and then it’s done - the wilderness’s gone.

 

He calls me at the last and I’m aghast,
“My god! my brother, what have you done?”
“But this madame is what you yourself asked!
How else can I tidy up a garden?”

 

“This is not what I want, in two hours past
you’ve trimmed off the plumes, the flowers, not one
remains on the plants, it’s just leaves and grass
just bare branches, only green and barren.”

 

The birds too are hushed, he stands there non-plussed
till my ire’s spent, says in an even tone,
“don’t worry, they grow back, but you must
decide how green you want your garden grown.”

 

He stands there and smiles, “leave it a bit wild
and there’ll be flowers in all colours and tones;
but if you want it neat, then get reconciled
to the idea of shades of green alone.

 

“Pruned neat and square, it will always be bare
you see, madame, the buds are often borne
at the tip of shoots and they must bloom there,
and the grass loses its plumes if it’s mown.”

 

I look at his wise face, and the spruced up place
and though I have been slow, it at last dawns -
the lesson he has taught with such careless grace
with a pair of pruning shears, and a wordless lawn.





Monday, 1 July 2013

Moult





The dream moults me in the deep of night
and goes tripping on urban streets
slow blinking milky sight spread wide,
rehashed the tread of heavy lead feet,

 

my mind rolled up like a yoga mat
writhes, and flesh resonates and turns
as it stops at a lamppost, scans a map,
outruns the roads and then returns.






My bug is back!  And a different bug here in the air.  But all well so far with us.