It ends with the boiling of bones. Flesh leaves the ribs as easily as pine needles leave dry branches.
An old carcass in grey water shrouded by its own grease. It ends with the boiling of bones.
Red-letter days, we look for omens. Here at the sink with a view of the coast road, laundry turning
itself over on the line and a magpie cross-grained as the number thirteen startling across.
Or here, where the scribe turns over a new leaf of fly-blown vellum, checks the initial, selects crimson
and lapis for the fairytale ending for the goose that swallowed its carbuncle and lived happily ever after somewhere
out along the coast road which leads to nothing in particular but the sky blue as it was in the beginning.
The new year slips into old habits.
In the foreground, hands turning over and over in the sunlit, soapy water. In a dish, the plain gold ring.
January 9th 2009
It’s later than we walked before, the sky is still salt glazed – cracked.
I don’t know the name of the field we cross with its turnip-toppy crop. My collie who used to run off all ziggy-zaggy seems older now and happy to walk close - sometimes she’s stirred enough to lift the crows.
Our boots and paws are clagged with clay oozing mud from the thawing frost. It sucks us in, we might be swallowed up and there’d be nothing left for them to find but a funny hat and my hand clutching an empty lead.
We pass the surprise of white hens – who can’t have been there before and cross Warren Road to the place Hurricane P2673 came down in September 1940 and John Hugh Ellis was lost at 21. We read this every day and the facts never change, then we look up to see Canary Wharf glittering like the fake Lighthouse wreckers lit.
Turning we head for home; whipped by the wind we pick up speed. Home to the oranges I left softening on the stove. Oranges and a house full of the smell of possibility.
Counting to one
The trick is, to nick the knife smoothly under the wooden topknot and peel
back the waxy dimpled rind smoothly in a single coil.
Then, to ravel it up, conceal the pithy white flesh wounds under
the eponymous skin so it looks quite like its old self again.
It’s five houses she’s done this in. At the old table in the new room
under the thin white January sun she watches her hands, knuckly
and thick-veined, go about their business, the tail unfurling.
She lifts it, tucks the pith gently into its own thickness round
an imaginary globe of air – she can feel it turning.
And gently, she sets the complete orange on a slightly crazed
January-sky-blue plate. There it sits beside itself
in matchless duplicity.
I have taken my photographs of snowmen to Marrakech, where it is raining more than it has rained for thirty years.
The souk turns to mud; men sit on tins of paint, vipers in damp baskets sleep.
Mahmoud studies snowmen and laughs at the one who sits cross-legged leaning back on a bench in Regents Park.
In the evening he cooks his spiced tagine with apricots and plums.
He slices oranges in circles. Arranged like flowers on a safii dish they are dusted with cinnamon and turn to amber in the candlelight.