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Showing posts from June, 2018

Late June: Sketches

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On the longest day: rise early, missing sleep. Drive towards the risen sun, sunglasses perched. Across the cobbles of Exeter Quay snick-snicks an urban fox, slips quick paced under cover of scratchy shrubs. 
At the home of Granma Grace, an ambulance is summoned (spoiler alert: this turns out okay). Paramedics Julia and Maria are asking us about end of life care: revive, we say, the quality of life is diminishing, the interest in it not piqued at all. At the hospital, our Grace is so lovely everyone must be lovely by return. She brings the sparkle.  A doctor brings her toast with maramalade, both paramedics pop in to see how she’s doing. We’re home in time to broil chicken for her lunch, she’s having a good food day.  (Angina medication to be revised.) Back home there’s Grandchild 2 picking strawberries, she tells me a whale’s tongue weighs as much as an elephant. A cold wind whips up around us, a lovely respite. We head for Bude, for two hot hours of training and teaching, then we slither to …

An Afternoon Nap

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At the house of Granma Grace artefacts line each shelf.  There's a lady in a yellow dress, she's been waltzing for years – decades – caught in a turn, petticoats fixed in a spin - she looks to her absent partner.  There's a lady in festive red, and three more china beauties above dressed for spring, delicate, all looking to an absent return of gaze.  On the room's highest shelf a china couple are fixed, blue and white, a dab of yellow, an accordion on his lap, they both look ahead. Toby jugs flank them, one has a roughly groomed beard.  Below, in her adjustable chair, Granma nods her head in sleep. 
Myself, sat on the sofa adjacent, I would not pick out her life in figurines. I would think of a tablecloth - something just as pretty with cotton lace, with embroidered flowers, with variable shades of white where food stains had been scrubbed out, where one of us had spilt ketchup, another had splashed wine.  Today I heated her breakfast milk, she ate her warmed cornflakes with…

Coffee Break On A Long Shift

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I am listening - by which I mean absorbing - by which I mean I am becoming part of this - as though easing into the sea, arms and legs afloat, just drifting. I am tired. 
Last night I was tired - but the evening air was so refreshing and my garden was there in the magic dusk, glowing with iris and rose and dots of closing day flowers and the bath-pond so little yet in its stillness infinite deep and I grew to be awake, alive, embracing.  Then it was midnight so I took a glass of dark wine to let sleep find me. Indoors was hot, I opened a window wide, then sleep did find me though twas all tumbled up, as though I had slept in storm waves.  Then it was birds shrieking, singing, it was 4.55am, sleep had fled, untraceable.  Pulled on garden clothes, went out to pour water on plants, ready for a hot day. I knew I would be at work, missing out, glad for bills paid, longing for my own land and no alarm clocks - the birds can wake me and I will find naps in hammocks, I will hunt them, feral. So al…

A Favourite Joke

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Granddaughters (aged 4, aged 6) in my hammock, reading a joke book.
“Why did the chicken cross the road, roll in the dirt and cross back again? Because it was a dirty double crosser!” Grandchild 5 (aged 1) has a hot-tired-left-out grump going on so I scoop her up, the whole squishy chunk of her, and she snuggles her head to my shoulder. Plan: put blanket in the other hammock, to cover the bump of the knot work, to make a cozy nest. Problem with plan: forgetting this sling of string has been left out all winter and is likely to be perilously frayed. We fell through it.  I hit the metal frame, G5 bounced unharmed off my ribcage, runs off wailing. The six year old retrieves her as Granma is caught in the net. (Soft tissue soreness, wrenched, crunched, dignity obliterated, nothing serious.) Granddaughters (aged 4, aged 6) have found their favourite joke of the afternoon: “You fell through the hammock, Granma! You were stuck!”
Granma rather likes the one about the chicken.