This is what I remember;

the sky was that unearthly shade
of blue, ground from a stone
and painted atop a field of gold leaf,
so that it seemed underlit with light.

The grass had not been mown yet,
each Augustine blade rose veined
from the earth. The stone house
seemed a natural thing, something
found, a mountain or mesa,
rather than planted, like the oaks
that framed it, spreading their arms.

It was one of those moments
when I could forget what I was.

It was Saturday, a week before
my fourteenth birthday. I had spent
the morning in the print-shop, casting
lead die for the press. Even back then
I loved working with words.

Returning for lunch, I heard
the shouts of the crew, the saw,
the edgers, ready to cut. Passing
the boiler shed I noted the door.
Open. I heard laughter.

I walked a little faster.

Josh was standing, blond and broad
shouldered, in the centre
of a loose adolescent circle.
The whip-cord edger head downward,
brushing his ankle like St. George’s blade.

He must have heard me coming,
turning to me with the loose smile
I have always fallen for, the one
my husband flashed many years later,
the day that we met. Josh waved
his friends aside, to let me in.

Against the grass, the sky,
the blood was vivid.
China-red, laid under with gold.

The kittens I had hidden
were partially flayed,
spines laid out like necklaces
on a carpet of fur.

The gray one that would not
take the breast was missing
part of its skull. I had fed it
with my fingers. I don’t know how,
but when it saw me its mouth opened.

Air bubbled from the gash
in its throat when it tried to cry.

Josh turned to me, smiling, so young
and healthy. I remember his smell.
Few people were kind. I tasted
the sno-cone he had bought me
behind the closed school,
so sweet and so cold.
The tips of my fingers tingled.

This is what I remember;

waking up some time later,
my right shoulder strained,
a gash on my jaw. Blood
dried on my face, an ache
in my neck, flecks of human
teeth embedded in the flesh

of my knuckles. I drew them out,
later, when I had almost forgotten
the shade of that sky.
The shade of his eyes.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on July 11, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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