Survivor

Naked before the mirror, her limbs bent in wilful
directions. She was a misshapen tree, bent

by a bomb blast in some forgotten war, misshapen
but surviving in the ruins of a bombed out town

in a ruined land with a name impossible to spell.
Like the victim of a witch’s spell one leg pointed

left, the other pointed right pulling her opposite
ways. Her life was a circle, a gravitational pull

to wayward rotation. Men caught by her centrifugal
spin queued in rotation to see her flicker matchstick

shadows on the bedroom ceiling, flickering
like the wings of a bird in a locked room.

 

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Photo by the author

The Blue Lady

One winter’s night in Ashington, Tim went looking
for paradise and found her swinging
slowly to and fro in the play park. She was singing
an old tune from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
At first he thought the canny moonlight made her blue
or a street lamp malfunction. On closer scrutiny

he was blown away by her truth; her hair of delphinium,
her eyes of forget-me not, her lips of cyanide,
her skin of palest sky, her fingers of summer solstice,
her kingfisher boots and hyacinth thighs. He forgot his need
to score and mounted the roundabout, sort of casual, like.
In a nervous, squeaky voice he offered her top-grade weed

but got no reply. She kicked up and swung higher,
carolling the refrain of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’
and laughing through teeth of gleaming steel.
So, how’s ‘bout coffee at mine then? he trilled.
She fell back to earth and followed him home.
Her name was Geraldine.

When dawn broke he woke to her singing
‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ while making breakfast.
In the bright light she was cornflower
and so was the scrambled egg, cornflakes and toast.
My touch turns the whole world blue, she said.
Looking down at his naked torso, he was amazed.

So, Tim changed the colour of his spots,
redecorated the flat, ditched drugs and shop-lifting.
He married Geraldine. Together they opened up
Blue Mood Foods, a take-away near the Crematorium.
They had two kids, Odin and Astrid
in subtle shades of ocean. They grew strange

herbs in window boxes. Their business expanded into psychedelic
biscuits on Amazon. Then the letters began; complaints
from neighbours about the changing hue of the town, concerns
about identity, concerns from Health and Safety, concerns
from the Planning Department about loss of grey.
They were served a court order forcing Geraldine to wear rubber

gloves in public places. There was an online petition
demanding her repatriation to wherever.
Odin and Astrid were bullied. They started writing poetry.
Their mother stopped singing show-tunes.
One day, she and the kids hitched a ride with the undertaker.
They were last seen on CCTV approaching the Channel Tunnel.

Tim moved to Hull and got a job slaughtering pigs.
He took pride in his work, keeping the stun gun primed
and polished by his bed, next to the blueprint family photo.

 

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The Blue Lady

The Vanishing

She held her breath and passed beneath the wishing trees. Their evergreen tips arched across the path to the beach. Kiss Me Quick, Squeeze Me Slow. The sea played out beyond the dunes.  The world unraveled an orgy of blues as the red kite spiraled up into the heat.  On the horizon, the mist spooled like the edge of dreams. She held her breath and waited for the wind to drop.

The kite shrank to a small dot, vanished. The sky grew dark and stormy like ruffled raven’s wings. Blue eyes and long black hair, her skin was delicate and fair. She began to run, over sharp stones, through thorns, back across the swamp until she tripped on a twisted tree root and fell, into quicksand. She held her breath.

During police interview her mother said, Aye, she was trouble alright. Born unlucky,
that girl.

 

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Image created by the author, photography, collage, ink.