Dark Angels Note 47
Welcome back to our writerly thoughts to distract, inspire and reassure you. Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here..
Think of a family holiday tradition. Who’s there? What do you do? What does the celebration taste like? Smell like? Look like? Collect as many specific details as you can. Does it bring your family together, fill the house with laughter or tears, perhaps it makes you a bit stressed but you enjoy it anyway? One way to begin is to simply describe the day chronologically and see what emerges. Memory is a powerful engine.
Climbing my grandfather
I decide to do it free, without a rope or net.
First, the old brogues, dusty and cracked;
an easy scramble onto his trousers,
pushing into the weave, trying to get a grip.
By the overhanging shirt I change
direction, traverse along his belt
to an earth-stained hand. The nails
are splintered and give good purchase,
the skin of his finger is smooth and thick
like warm ice. On his arm I discover
the glassy ridge of a scar, place my feet
gently in the old stitches and move on.
At his still firm shoulder, I rest for a while
in the shade, not looking down,
for climbing has its dangers, then pull
myself up the loose skin of his neck
to a smiling mouth to drink among teeth.
Refreshed, I cross the screed cheek,
to stare into his brown eyes, watch a pupil
slowly open and close. Then up over
the forehead, the wrinkles well-spaced
and easy, to his thick hair (soft and white
at this altitude), reaching for the summit,
where gasping for breath I can only lie
watching clouds and birds circle,
feeling his heat, knowing
the slow pulse of his good heart.
Published by The Rialto in 2002.
Join us via Zoom for an hour of writing and talking with other Dark Angels. We meet at 7pm UK time every Tuesday. Click here on the night. There’s no need to register in advance and we’ll be using the same link every week from now on. There’s no charge. And feel free to bring a friend along.
We’re still applauding Dark Angel, Susannah Hart, for her commended poem ‘Song of my auntie’ in the 2020 National Poetry Competition. If you didn’t catch it last week, listen to Susannah read her wondrously musical poem here.
From everyone at Dark Angels
Also published on Medium.