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October 2013, vol 8, no 3

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Claire Everett


Sleepers

summer chirrs
in the warbler's breast…
shimmering heat

This could be one of any number of Sundays when the hours were as long, slow and easy as the boughs bending towards their reflections in my father's childhood tales. "Once, there were fields here as far as the eye could see," he would proclaim, spreading his arms wide to embrace the morning, "and you could walk from here to there in less than a day, with a bottle of kali stoppered with brown paper and a pack-up of jam butties to see you on your way." The intrepid explorer. Wide-eyed, I believed he could do anything and each night I told him I loved him "as big as the sky."

rose-flecked dawn…
in the robin's egg
a dream of song

What did I want to be when I grew up? Today an archaeologist, tomorrow an osteopath. I liked the occupations with the grandest names. "What did you want to be?" That crooked smile of his, "I'm still waiting to find out." He was the Francesco to my Leonardo, painting my days alive. Dunnocks laid eggs the colour of the summer sky. He called them by the old name, hedge-chanters. We imagined them in little Gregorian habits, cloistered deep in the thicket, singing Matins. 



ripening corn…
the yellowhammer's little bit
of bread and no cheese

I came to dread the place where the disused railway track faded into brambled distance. I always wanted to keep on going, hobbledy-hoy along the sleepers, trying to match my stride with his.

black spot on the sun…
ladybird, ladybird
my world upturned

Looming here, leaning there, beyond the lychgate, the cemetery finds its place in the first breaths of twilight. I ask for a minute of the oak's time and stoop at the edge of its shade, beside my grandparents' grave. A few feet away, my father, their son, is at rest. The oak stirs in the breeze. At rest? From blood to dust, to the ink of sap, drawn through the centuries to flow like cursive from spring's fair hand. An ode to sunlight and the brush of wings.

making tracks…
the land of my fathers
deep in the cleats




crane