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Image by Jackson Hendry
At the Lake’s Edge
A space between us on the bench,
we watch our reflections
waver on the surface
spiked with bright spots
from the moon.
Moths brush our faces.
We think of bats
the way they swoop round rooms
not touching: their bodies soft-furred
dark as the night’s instincts.
A carp kisses the surface
ripples water in widening circles.
but we never see him dance
between the weeds
at the lake’s dappled edges
before we walk home
hands in pockets.
I sit on this sofa’s edge.
You talk of red giants, white dwarfs
and stars so small and dense
their atoms fuse together,
We sit with a space between us,
but even here I feel the pull of you.
You are my sun, and I’m in orbit
just outside your event horizon
beyond which nothing can escape.
If I approach too close,
allow one kiss, one gentle touch,
I’ll be sucked towards you.
My atoms would fuse with yours
and all my life would be
crushed out of existence.
For you, nothing changes.
I ask a million questions
but you never reply.
You take all my light
absorb all admiration,
give back nothing.
‘Move back to Manchester,’ my grandson says.
I shake my head.
The trees, the pavement’s edge, the red-brick houses,
even the smallest things hold memories
We walked the cemetery together, his mother and I,
between rotting oranges around the Buddhist graves,
rain-sodden teddy bears
and the man filling a wheelbarrow
with cellophane-wrapped flowers dropping petals;
things that are supposed to remind us
all things die.
‘I’d hate to be buried here,’ I said.
She shook her head, looked up into the canopy of trees,
seemed to be listening to the sound of wind and leaves,
heard an inner voice and said, ‘I like it here.’
We slowly retraced our steps beneath the trees,
silent now as we walked past graves
plastered with photographs of the happy dead,
back to the hospital and into the ward
where women screamed and rocked in corners.
My grandson, a baby then,
won’t remember how I carried him
back and forth, back and forth
between hospital and home.
Now his head bobs to hidden music.
‘Manchester is great,’ he says.
He doesn’t remember how she died
or how he once patted her face
and smiled at her.
She often thought of dying,
said, ‘My only regret would be
he won’t remember me.’
Rosemarie Barr is a ceramic artist. Before moving to Wales she was a member of Off The Page, a group of five poets based in Manchester who took their work on tour in the North of England. She is now a member of Penfro Poets based in Ceredigion. Her fiction has been shortlisted in competitions. Several of her poems appear on the elegant slipcast bottles she makes.