I once, when I was young but not obscenely so, went up to a tree in my lawn and tugged at one of its dangling, lazy branches with my soft, innocent, child hands, just as if I were shaking the hand of a stranger.

‘Hello, Tree.’

Just like that. It kept swaying only slightly in the warm evening wind that kept lapping up to us like a wave pushed back and forth by the tide. Of course it didn’t answer or nod its own greeting back; instead, after my words had sliced through the closing stillness, there the tree was, still swaying, still rustling its leaves in the evening wind like before. I had a revelation then—for how wonderful it was! I thought. How wonderful that I could rush out of my house and come to this tree, and shake its hand and speak truth or fiction to it, and at the end, it would remain still tall and proud, as before.

For there I realised my words were only sounds. Nothing else for the proud old tree, but the crisp crumbling of rocks, the harsh calls of crows. And if the tree could see my book shelves, I wondered, would it be able to tell apart the books that were picture books, and the ones that were not so?



I’m not a number.

I’m not real or rational.

You may attempt to find my sum,

but I will warn you that

I contain none of the symmetries

you might expect.

Your flower pot has something beautiful

growing inside of it is all

I want to say.

You’re beautiful

plus very far away.

I cannot stop remembering the details of this messy life.

There may be various species of pain.

By the windowsill,

the sunflower shrinks against the sky.

It is parched.

I take a sip of water.

I cannot stop remembering the details of our messy life.


I like the lace curtains, they outline chrysanthemums, curling up in white-threaded bloom, while just behind, the snow clumps and falls to the hard ground with inaudible thumps.

The heater belches. Thump.

The electricity flicks off. Thump.

I sit and glue my eyes to the screen off a new landscape, icy, discoloring my view into something unfamiliar. Thump.

I want to scratch nails at the heavy oak table. Thump. I pull at the metal blue lamp. Thump. I push at the blackened bookshelf, away from the door. Thump. I sit back down, out of breath. Thump. I lay down, and try to sleep.

But it still stings, and the thumps keep falling. Inaudible now, just like the snow, never listens.

Sleeping and Waking

At night, she thought about death, but in the morning, when she had at last shaken off the coiling fingers of teasing dreams and nightmares, she remembered life. At night, nothing would appease her, but in the morning, she would look outside the window and see a seagull pecking busily at bags of overflowing trash, and that by itself would vanquish death, would belittle it till it seemed as real as the monsters children believe hide in their closets at night. But she had never feared monsters; but from a young age, she had feared mortality. At five years old, she had stepped outside on her cold balcony, in a night still but for the echoes of faraway motorcycles, and stared out into the deep everything that lay before her, and realised how much of it there was and how little of her there was to take it all in. But in the mornings, she would laugh at the ignorant, cawing seagulls, and feel thrilled to step outside onto the warm summer streets, to have even one day of existence.


At his house, she ate the carrot cake that tasted like their summer before it flew away on the breath of the red leaves, which cracked and curled under her feet, and the time felt never ending, like she was water swirling down a drain, and she laughed at the turning seasons, growing and un-growing themselves into the monotonous cycle of being forgotten (yesterday he asked her to sing but she giggled instead and he frowned and she laughed, and laughed, and pushed the air out so hard that her eyes grew wet from remembering).


A dove sinks through the air.

like a little boat,

lost in the ocean with a hole in its side.

A languid storm torments her,

slowly and silently,

until the beauty in her body is run out by grey.

Light from her face is dwindled to a shadow,

a hollow frame,

and each bone is standing high

– out of place.

Yet, through the cold she flies

to a hill where time stops

and she bathes in a pool of silence.

A fleeting moment of peace dances in winter twilight,

and forgotten

is the perpetual creep towards an ashen flood.

For a stolen second grey fades

and life saturates:

there is light. And it triumphs.

But too soon the evening tide must pull her away,

feather by feather,

clawing, until she sinks, bare, into a dark sea of stone.

Her eyes glaze open in a search for sleep,

and tortured by vague sentience:

she floats, transient and motionless in a calm panic.

With cruel ease, the night greets the dove:

he takes her





all at once.

The ochre brush of her life, in time, is short

but she leaves a drop

golden and beautiful in a swelling sea of grey.

And that is how the dove

lost her flight.

In memory of Katy Dove 1970-2015


She runs! And we hug,

“Darling!” ­­


I missed yous are dutifully exchanged.

“How was the drive?” It was good, good.

Her dark velvet pleats are a shade deeper than my corduroy, I notice.

“Yours?” Great, good.

I wonder, where the deep circles came from. She wonders where the pink in my cheeks has gone to. I grasp her hand a little tighter. We’re both doing well, we establish. She’s been busy, I’ve been getting on fine. The parents are well.

I break the silence of cheery banter.

“Sorry.” Yeah, she acknowledges. Neither missed the other. Neither wanted to meet.

I open up the black umbrella. She pulls down the black veil. Modern; inevitably chic.

Bobby’s Graveyard

We stood at the gates, hands curled around the flaking bars, faces pressed to the rails, peering through. A long strip of grass, running down to the wall at the far end. Flanking it on either side, two rows of tombs, the walls built up with great stone blocks. Iron-guarded. We wondered why this one place was locked and bolted. The graves were old, but the padlock was new. I lifted it idly, finding it heavy, and cold to the touch.

The weather was pleasant – a lull of sunshine in between temperamental bouts of rain. We had passed several parties, the guides pouring forth their facts in English, Spanish, the tourists listening rapt, or with their attention wandering. But this part of the graveyard was still. Maybe there was nothing of note here, or perhaps the tours would pass by later. The noise of cars from outside the walls was muffled and sounded far away. It felt as though no-one else existed. Like the graveyard and the city had emptied.

A wind rose, a cold wind, all of a sudden. The walls channelled the air, funnelling the gust towards us, around us. The wind had leapt up from inside the tombs and was rushing out, like some portal had opened into another dimension, and its cold, dry air was being sucked out by the light and sunshine of our own world. Sliced into strips by the iron bars, the wind swept around us, whispering in our ears, rustling our hair, then dying away. A tangible ethereality. For a brief moment, I felt we had been removed from time.



You’ve got to keep up. Like, know what’s happening. So that when things change, you’re not caught out. That’s the worst thing. It reminds me in an abstract way of being a monkey, hanging with the other monkeys, being free and easy. I’m acting the fool and then suddenly I’m out of the canopy, in the howling grassland, glimpsed in the starlight by whatever monsters are there. And terror just rushes down on me. It’s like, if I take my mind off my surroundings for a second, if I drift out of the conversation, I’m totally naked, out in the open and prone. It’s a real fear.

Like…what if I can’t keep up with everything. Like, I’m too tired or something. Worried about something else. And all that intricate stuff that I’m keeping on top of, that’s gonna just become a blur, or a wall, like static on a screen. Like all the lines of focus that I weave through my mind are all just going to lead to a dead end, screens just showing static.

I don’t know. I guess I’m just…worried. About losing touch, or something. It feels like…fighting sleep. I’m afraid of dying, pretty much, I guess. But I don’t know if that fear is helping me stay alive, or it’s adding to the…confusion…but. What can I do.