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I had the identical watch to this clock, once.
Bent out of shape, Roman numerals stretching
and shrinking, melting towards the centre.
I didn't know him back then
and yet here is an object
we were both attracted to.
A perfect match.
Glass protects hand and face
but it's nearly always one.
It has no function
except it stands on the second shelf
next to the picture of him with his godchildren –
all smiling and laughing.
A natural moment captured.
Next to time
that has stopped.
Nina Lewis, from Fragile Houses
“What do you mean?”
“Polish? Shoe polish? No, wood polish. Lemons, but not real lemons; artificial lemons, fake lemons. Dusting cloth, artificial lemon polish. Not a fresh cloth, no. That stale cloth lemon. That musty dust of repeated disappointments and disappointing repetitions. What do you reckon it smells like? Here, take a whiff. The outside? Grass or leaves or soil or dirt or mud or rain or sand? A slight hint of ginger? Not ginger-ginger but gingerbread-ginger. Don’t look at me like that; they’re different. Moonlight smells like difficulty. It’s the opposite of triumphant – the word escapes me. It’s too passive to be resilient. You think it smells like the night? Well, what does night smell like? How do you know that the night doesn’t only smell like the night because what you can really smell is moonlight and now we’ve come to associate the smell of moonlight with the smell of the night? Which is which? Does moonlight smell the same everywhere? How about in Hawaii? I bet moonlight smells different there, or the night… Wait – wait! If the moon reflects the sun’s light, what does sunlight smell like? What is this I’m smelling? Day or night, sun or moon, light or reflection? How do we know if we’re smelling day at night-time or night at daytime? Wha–”
“Darling, it’s only a bunch of chemicals to make the candle scented. Put it down so we can go get something to eat.”
Santino Prinzi, from There's Something Macrocosmic About All of This
Trying too hard
When I was younger trying too hard was a good thing;
being “too helpful” wasn’t even a phrase.
I spent my childhood days trying too hard
to stitch trying too hard into my DNA
because trying this hard was thought admirable.
But when he, narrow-eyed and sharp-tongued,
tells grown-up me that I’m trying too damn hard,
he hurls the words like hardball insults.
My best quality is now the one that tests him
and his patience the most.
So I peel back skin, pull out parts
of myself and begin to unpick their stitching.
He catches me, shakes his head, laughs, and leaves –
on his way out he tells me how typical it is
that I’m trying too hard. Again.
Charley Barnes, from A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache
I go to him when the lakes are quiet,
when blossom holds its breath
in bluest south.
have strung up their miles
and collect inwards towards the light –
and all the dim world’s glow,
this earth-meal and dust
and glittering in this autumn’s constant.
All the flames that go up
are a mortal shout.
The gardener’s burn,
its heat and grain
reveal him in his awfulness
tending the ruined mass,
this mode of a man
I’ve learned to love
tackles leaf, and loom, drags
the swollen bosom of wood
from a belly of wire
and bluish thistle.
He wants it all to burn.
We drain the lakes,
their glass up-sends in fume,
their iris codes
flurry, and whiten the air
to our killing conditions –
in this blood-red insistence
The horses walk on
like women through fire.
Helen Calcutt, from Unable Mother