Is that the wind?

Is that a train or the wind?

It’s a wind full of crows

flapping their wings over iron gates

as black as their feathers.

One swoops and I duck. 

It just missed my head.

Imagine a train full of crows,

Suffocating with all those feathers.

Something is coming in that wind. Something bigger than crows.

A big flapping giant striding the land.

Those crows are alarmed.

I hear a huge wave.

Tsunami.

There’s more to be feared than giants or crows.

Masks

In Venice

Under the beautiful mask

Is there a wonderful face?

The skin of their necks looks delicious

Youthful and covered in kisses

Her fingers bejewelled with stars

His thumb on her wrist is possessive.

His cravat is ironed and starched.

I can only see his dark eyes.

The crowds, the music, the singing,

The laughter that echoes on walls,

Amplified by the water, where the gondola rocks on ropes.

This postcard fell from my sketchpad.

It fell on the floor as I drew.

I have never been to Venice and probably never will.

In the old people’s home, my daughter makes sweet conversation

While I draw the old people’s hands.

Hands tightly clasped.

Fingers plucking at cloth.

Hands hanging limp from the wrists.

A hand leaned against a forehead partially covering eyes.

Rings hang loose on old bones

In a room with a faded carpet and a circle of straight-backed chairs.

The faces are lined and creased.

Sunken lips. Fleshless cheeks.

Sans taste, sans sight, sans sound.

Everything slips.

Masking the beauty of youth.

********

Footnote

‘Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything’ Shakespeare, ‘As You Like It’

1967

Her Pakistani boyfriend

held her sticky, sugared hand

as they jumped down off the bus.

The pavements rose to greet her

in blazing summer heat,

There in Clifton Road,

where the buses stopped

by Mrs. Morton’s sweet shop,

her mother’s weekly treat.  

Liquorice and gumdrops,

and everything that’s sweet.

An echo of her childhood.

The one she’s quickly lost. 

It was then she saw the faces

staring from the windows,

staring in the street.

Disapproval, shock.

She raised her chin defiant,

sweat trickling down her neck.

Little English girl in a flowery summer frock.

He was ten years older.

She looked older than she was.

‘Reach out I’ll be there’ he said.

He was gone within six months.

It was then her face, at first just ghostly,

Turned a whiter shade of pale.

She went off to the coast

And she’s never coming back.