Sunday, September 28, 2008

the calm before the storm

Two collared doves rest.  One on the arm, one on the back of the flaking bench.  Like two balls of pale clay they seem to melt a little in the late afternoon sun.  They retract their legs and lower slowly - wrapping wood in soft balled feather.  Their white rimmed eyes blink slower blinks, their beaks mutter soundlessly.  The privilege of watching animals sleep.

A small cyclone of black fur panic.  A cat trapped in our conservatory.  It throws itself to the four corners trying to find escape.  Windows appear the correct shape but don’t work the same in this house.  They are closed.  A double glazed cage surrounds cat and drives it crazy.  Clinging with front paws and climbing claws cat abandons floor and heads higher.  Shimmies sideways along the top of the door - a four legged spider.  Black face gets lightly draped in cobwebs.  Foolish home-owner has now noticed cat and is beckoning and rubbing empty fingers together and repeating clickety sounds of ‘kittykittykitty’.  Foolish person disappears and reappears outside looking in at cat.  Person is where cat wants to be.  Cat investigates, tentatively exits conservatory, through kitchen, through hall where daylight smell gets stronger, into lounge where fool is pointing at open doorway.  Cat pauses then exits as if rebounding on invisible elastic.  A shriek of teeth and feet across the lawn, flying over the low wall without the slightest jump, up the tree, barely shifting the leaves.  And gone.

[It felt improper to photograph the doves as they slept, but I took the above with their permission, moments after they awoke.  The cat declined the offer to pose for me.]

Saturday, September 20, 2008

our favourite stranger, revisited

Brimful of love with endless time on his hands he ponders mornings and tilts his head to better view an afternoon. He makes friends with all the little things most of us overlook.  Greets fruit and vegetables like he’s known them all his life and is relieved to see holes in their travelling bags and boxes through which to enjoy the view.  And he mourns every empty shell he finds - already missing the departed resident he never got to meet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

the fall

She brings home a handful of windfalls. Smaller than shop bought apples but far more sincere. Their skins a darker green - almost mossy, almost velvet. If apples were thunderclouds they would be this green. If apples were the eyes of a girl who never forgives ...

She slices them into uneven fans and scatters them on a square white dish. They are a funny colour and I eye her offering with a little suspicion. They look more like pieces of potato. But they taste like the summer that never arrived. Like listening to stories while sat on heaps of your mother’s skirt under the tree we never grew.

I bite into their uneven landings - the flavour of a tumble that follows a long cling. I taste their bruises and learn that sometimes bruises taste good.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

the urban jungle

In the news this week - a lion on the loose in Belfast, in a park, near the zoo - where all lions counted and accounted for - all cages closed and locked - yet enough sightings for police to advise to approach with caution.

The thought lion. The one that got away. The one on the tip of your tongue. The eternal complaint, the silent roar the caged ones never make. The dream lion they send out to roam on their behalf. Conjured from sand and dropped lolly sticks. Brought to life by midnight incantations breathed through soft whiskered lips under Irish skies where anything is possible. A new king of Ireland with a leafy crown - sent to battle for sun and savannah and meals to eat on the go. Treading grass carpets under blue sky roofs - the lion that comes and goes while your eyes are closed. Golden shadows, wild wishes, sun ghosts. A myth to keep you on your toes.

Postscript - another false alarm - the big cat turned out to be a big dog, sandy coloured but otherwise harmless.