My Room

Image from Unsplash, taken by Clint Patterson

I thought I heard your voice,

But it was just an echo.

Outside a car door slammed.

It was spilling laughter around it,

People were shouting across it,

And I think it reminded me.

And that is all the noise I hear.

The room is silent.

I stopped the clock

As its loud ticking hurt me.

The shadows through the curtains

Rise and fall with the daylight.

My room is dark and paused.

I should light a candle.

I should eat some food.

I should breathe carefully.

I should get some sleep.

I should push myself out of here.

I am here, quiet in the dark.

You have gone and are elsewhere,

In the daylight and warmth.

And that is all.

There Should Be Storms

There should be storms, not the calm, still sky.

There should be storms, and dark castle walls.

This faded coffee shop, half empty, in the shade,

Is not the place to watch your life crash down.

I wait for you, and you are late again.

In the corner, reading a cheap magazine,

A woman droops and, trying not to yawn,

Turns the page to new adulteries.

I check my phone, there’s nothing new from you,

Just half an hour wait and waiting still.

I wonder if you know what waits here, crouching,

In this faded, shaded, tired coffee shop

Two girls behind the counter, talking low

Of boys and school and last week’s hair.

They bend the paper clip from next week’s hours

To try and free the block in the machine

They sound so young and earnest, taking care

Warning each other about the burning pipes

Promising to be there at the club

And one will lend the other their new dress

The woman yawns again and leaves the place

Out into the bright and shining mall

Past the old rabbi playing careful chess

Facetiming with his friend in Tel Aviv

The two old men talk with kindness, they are kind

And measure the words they use across the miles

What words can I use to you so close

When I stare across the table at your face.

The old rabbi taps his hearing aid and shouts

A gentle, kind goodbye across the miles.

Packs up his chess and leaves into the mall.

I am reading the left magazine

The coffee shop is shutting with the mall,

The sun is draining down the peaceful sky

There should be storms.  I text you, ‘It is over

Do not contact me again.  Goodbye.’

Another blast from the past, first published in 2016

Candlemas

Fiona watched Steve light the candles ranged across the mantelpiece and then along the windowsill. “It’s Candlemas. What does that mean?”

Steve slotted the lighter back on the shelf. “Candlemas, Imbolc, Feast of Lights. It’s a funny time of year. It’s one of the big festivals, you know. Lady Freydis has her realm lit up like a fairground.” He picked up his glass of wine. “I’ve heard it described as the first day of spring.” He shrugged and looked out at the snow outside. “I suppose you could say that it’s a little glimpse of hope. It’s still dark at breakfast and dinner time, but the nights are getting a minute or two shorter every day. It’s still foul weather, but there are snowdrops out there and the first stirrings of spring are around, like buds and shoots tucked away in the corners. It’s dark, but there’s hope of light. It’s cold, but there’s hope of spring.”

Fiona took her glass and gently touched it to his. “Cheers. It doesn’t feel like it’s getting better.”

Steve shook his head. “But all we can do is hold on to the hope that the darkness will pass. Because without that hope, it’s a very dark place indeed.”