Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Her Softer Sophistry

 

Her Softer Sophistry

 


I believe in you when you tell me that travel

broadens the mind, but it spreads diseases,

seizes sick men, who, repulsing all borders,

cough up 10 days prison for flouting orders,

tax poor outlaws to fill up with coffers tears.

I’m no Robin Hood, let Nottingham go free,

vote in whoever you like to run bureaucracy,

I’ll stay here; be a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

 

You suspect this might be double thinking?

Look - two woodpigeons billing and cooing,

him plump, all rump and necking hot beak,

her coyly steeplechasing sticky-back heat.

 

A pair of leather sneakers in rough shooing,

we’re stuffing both our 5 toes up front, but,

they rub and straps trap under caught heels,

try to undo knotty laces, we slip to and fro,

catching all too-knowing glances as we go.

 

Doctor Robert told me there might be days

like these, but, then again, nobody told me

in fixing a hole, that I’d get her into my life.

If we weren’t both married, she’d be my wife,

strange, how she gives new meaning to life,

her words travel me; in soft sophistry carve:

 

Dear, my loving you is deep within my heart

until I will die. Don’t worry, no one can know

about love impossible, say it’s so as it grows,

only I can talk about us to my God and soul.

We did not fall in love just to hide it. You flow,

like the Nile from my centre in flowing to you.

 

With these sweet arguments, she brings us in,

yet no syllables of sin. We’re travelling within

her long river voyage, seek pyramids looming,

bulging, indistinct polygonal shapes, rooming

within her warm welcoming home. She abroad,

returns with presents of pink scented sheets,

to make up my bed together, like I’m her Lord,

she, my lady in waiting lies, folds back pleats,

and, one onrushing night, we’ll cry and greet.

Sure, travel is fine, I say it broadens our living,

my mind's virus is cured by her loving and giving.



Monday, 26 July 2021

A Wandering Minstrel's Eye

 

A Wandering Minstrel's Eye

 

 

So, one man’s panoramic disease

to become another man’s gift.

He should have crossed regions,

traversed those continental drifts,

but all those red and amber lists.

Had he a travelling pair of hands

and a wandering minstrel’s eye,

a skin so sensitive it must stiffen

to see her full shape shimmer by.

 

Show don’t tell of their bodies’ heats

mingling and closing, side to side,

don’t even touch, just hang it loose,

forbidden fruit in squeezed juice,

when her dull living begins its sting,

call a wandering minstrel’s hands in.

Her fretful eyes, he all a-fingering,

strumming bass notes soft and low,

her voice silk trembling baritone.

 

She catches his roving eye, all shy,

stifling a cry, crosses both thighs

right modestly. Like hot desert dry

licks cracking lips, peels back his skin,

swift hands are busy doing pocketing,

fumbling with loose change, jangled

throbbing up in all 45-degree angles,

wandering minstrel’s lightning rhythm

two-two hard rock duets fast driven.

 

Time to irrigate dry sand, he knows

to inspect up close her trembling rose

with minstrel’s fingers. Such a dripping

delicious spread, his mouth swimming

in water, kneels in harvest  at her altar.

Her fingers tangle hairs, push it there,

a travelling pair, groaning her prayers

to virus fair, for all these coming years:

A wandering minstrel’s song ever hers.



Saturday, 24 July 2021

Survivor

 

Survivor

 

 

She knows it’s like pancake flipping,

judging the moment, stick or twist,

if it buds or flowers it’s in her wrist.

Can’t place my fingers in or on it:

she could stick the landing, I’ll admit,

but what’s growing here is hard to say.

Months passed; my sent rose bouquet,

once red blooms strong; petals bold,

shed in decay because they grew old,

as feelings wither, grow slowly cold,

a solitaire hand you’ll have to fold.

So, my dark effervescent bubblewitch

prunes. She casts runes that stitch,

crops suckers off stems, buds weave,

strong magic she kept up her sleeve,

her rambler’s tamed, held in check,

in growths she knows I can’t forget,

names each stem. Like faith in love

or honesty, sincerity, hope and trust.

Loyalty blooms, each frond she tends,

whilst on my sincerity she depends,

knowing how hearts and pancakes flip,

she waters tenderly to tighten grip.




Sunday, 18 July 2021

Curtains

 

Curtains

 

There is a wall.

 

It curtains, throwing shade. Yellow, like most constructions in this country. Perhaps because the sun blanches everything burnt custard coloured, or perhaps materials birthed from deserts are naturally this colour.

 

Probably there is no way of knowing without research; probing the internet, all seeing, all knowing.

 

In front, between the road and the wall, strewn rubble passes itself off as pavement. Sidewalk, if you like. To walk upon this, you should take care, for many hidden dangers linger there. Stones to twist the ankle, mouths to trip the toe, lips to cause a stumble and fall. Broken heels tell all.

 

Amongst the bric-a-brac, face upwards, someone has tossed away a couple of orphan playing cards with tawny edges; they peer curiously from behind concrete. Perhaps the queen of hearts, the knave of clubs. They are fading.

 

Hiding somewhat behind the wall, a tall building. Seen better days and the paint flakes peel like skin from a prune whilst the windows’ sunglassed eyes make faces, shielded from glare.

 

Rising like drones in flight, we can spy over the top as a door opens. It creaks in protest, reluctant to reveal what secrets might lie within.

 

Picking their way out carefully, two figures emerge. There is an argument in sign language, punctuated with shy smiles. Who should go before the other?

 

After some flapping, the man, dressed in short-sleeved shirt and dark trousers comes first, all in flipped back grey hair and sun blushed tomato; his tie is dishevelled, because he has undone the top button, the one that pinches the neck’s soft flesh to hide milk skin within. He clutches a soft, black leather satchel, worn by time so that its lines present an informal face to the watching world.

 

Following him, the woman, with hair bound tightly in a mauve and pink scarf whose colours fade into and compliment her profile, so that only brown eyes and a humble mouth reveal themselves. No lipstick, nothing about her eyes, for they are shadow enough in themselves and deep welcoming pools.

 

She wears a loose-fitting patterned silken dress. More a robe; designed not to excite stray wanting gazes or accentuate anything too much. Straight up and down, with hint of curves. Yet, there are also two opened buttons as in casual accident at the faintly stirring throat. From high above with a really good lens, and if the loose scarf is stirred by her graceful motion, there should be glimpses.

 

The couple traverse the inner patio, drop out of view briefly, exit through a gate where they can be observed, one in front of the other, stumbling over the rubble, making for a medium sized white saloon car with four doors. They walk slowly in the heat, and although the car isn’t far, it takes 45 seconds before they reach it. Sometimes the woman leads, sometimes the man. Always in a pantomime of friendly gestures.

 

Now they arrive. She unlocks the door, and so clearly it belongs to the woman, and yes, she disappears into the left-hand front driving position. The right-hand door swings open, unlocked from the interior, although front windows are curtained by anti-dazzle, metallic, heat reflecting shields, so it is hard to be totally certain if she opens it.

 

The man enters the car, satchel first, then his haunches, before swinging his legs anti-clockwise and the door shuts. They are within; neither can be accurately seen, just shapes.

 

Can they be heard? Yes, just, if the car is approached very closely from the rear where the window has not been blacked out. But it is hard to pick out every word because the engine is running, even though the car is stationary. The air conditioning inside is blowing so that slowly the interior cools.

 

“We must sit in here. Outside is hot. I will sit with you. Sorry, Mister, the car broken. I cannot drive you.”

 

“There really is no need, it will come in a minute.”

 

“No, Mister, it is pleasure for me to sit here with you. You are good teacher. My children love you, when you come, they are so happy.”

 

“Listen, I don’t want to put you out. Please, I am happy to wait by the gate.”

 

“When you come, I am happy. You are a good, kind man. So much you remind me of my father.”

 

“You are so kind, to say that. I’m sure I’m nothing like him, really.” And the man can be heard chuckling nervously.

 

“You are kind and gentle, like him. I loved my father so much, Mr John, so much. He was wonderful man, with silver hair. I never wanted to leave him; he always was soft with me. My husband says me it is wrong to love my father so much.”

 

And her voice is swelling as she says this, like a roller approaching the beach, before it retreats back into itself, only to come again.

 

Beats. Silence holds them together in fleeting eternity. Watch carefully; these two do not look at each other. They do not touch. They must not. They cannot. This nothing speaks of substance. It will fill volumes of unwritten pages in crimson and black ink.

 

She moves. Spell broken, now reaches into a small handbag. Only the back of the man’s head, in streaks of dark and grey can be seen. But by moving closer to focus more carefully and without attracting attention, it is plain that her hands are trying to conceal a decanter of scent.

 

She is taking his wrist in her palms.

 

Nothing is said. Or, if it is, it cannot be heard and her lips are barely discernible behind the veiling scarf. Observe. She is spraying his wrists, then gently stroking with her fingertips in small circles, one, then the other, rubbing softly.

 

Now, we see her smile, she lets go his hand then anoints her own forearms. She is pushing the bottle into fist. Pressing. Her lips move and might say: “So that you do not forget, Mister.”

 

Does he refuse the gift? Try to pass it back to her?

 

Before more can be witnessed, another car approaches and it would be prudent to pull back out of earshot and sight.

 

The front right passenger door opens and the man, Mr John, as we now know his name, still rumpled, reappears, clutching his satchel and blinking at the sudden dazzle of the sun. He looks up the street, then back down – perhaps feeling he is being watched – then sees this newly arrived car waiting.

 

John shrugs, turns, waves vaguely into the interior of the car he has just left. Is he blowing a kiss? Smelling his scented wrists? Possibly. It is difficult to see clearly from here. Moving away and closing the door, he lets himself into the second car. As the glass is tinted dark, all that can be seen is a reflection.

 

After a pause, the car drives off, curtained and cool.

 

Will there be anything of further interest? For a little while, maybe five minutes, the white saloon car is rocking gently, its occupant screened off; cradling her in faint ripples. Possibly it is heat haze. The engine is still turned on.

 

 

 

 

 

Some time has passed but it is not important how much time. The sun is fiercer that it was and spends longer in the daytime sky.

 

There is a carpark.

 

A barrier, painted in red and white strips like a barber’s pole, separates the dark interiors from the gaze of the burning sun, or the eyes of the ministry buildings opposite. Much of it, but not all, is constructed underground. A ramp descends deep beneath, above which the building sits like a pointing finger.

 

In the underbelly, it is hot, because the air conditioning is not as effective as it could be. Due to this, fire alarms cry in false tongues throughout the day while surveillance cameras prowl the walkways, looking for anything that could pose a danger to the inhabitants or their children.

 

Trapped heat rises, swollen by the pit. It burns the undersides of the ground floor apartments and in these, the air conditioning strives twice as hard to maintain a living environment.

 

The carpark also runs above ground, adjacent to three apartments; it curves to the side of these. A barrier partitions the outside from the inside but here, the sun’s sticky tongue can reach and lick the split paving. It is rarely employed by people who rent the homes within and is unencumbered by stationary vehicles, only occasionally used by trade and delivery.

 

It is quite simple to duck quickly under the barrier and tread lightly across the concrete.

 

Mr John lives in one apartment alongside the carpark. It is easy to reach his windows and there is no need to be especially quiet because the constant drone of his labouring air conditioning units, pumping cool air, covers most external noises. Just the shrill high-pitched myna birds reach within.

 

By the side of his apartment, the carpark road narrows into a space just wide enough to let a medium sized vehicle through. Beyond this is a tall painted wall in ubiquitous yellow. Upon seeing his windows, observe how pointless they are, they look out upon nothing but the wall, letting in little light. The windowed eyes of tall buildings opposite can peek over the top and because his apartment is grounded, it is easy to peer in, if care is taken not to alert him.

 

The far window of two stares into his bedroom. Both have bars, net curtains and thick drapes. Mr John rarely pulls these across, perhaps because it is rarely light enough for him to bother, or perhaps because he is careless.

 

He is sitting on his bed. He is using his phone to take photographs. But of what?

 

With closer examination, notice how his left-hand grips one naked foot and pins it across his knee whilst the right manipulates the camera. It is obvious he is right-handed and is capturing images of the soles and heels. Mr John is not particularly dextrous, however; observe that he must release the right foot in order to send the photographs. Some people would find such a task easy, needing only one hand.

 

He appears to be satisfied that he has accomplished the task, because now he reclines back on to the bed, left sided, leaving his right hand free whilst the other is partially trapped by his body. He is wearing a loose fitting robe – quite usual and comfortable in hot climates.

 

His head rests back on one of three pillows, two of which are covered with striped pillow slips; the third is a plain, purple colour. Three pillows could be seen as an odd number. Most people would have four and all the slips would match. What this suggests about Mr John is impossible to know without asking him.

 

To do this might raise awkward questions that are best avoided.

 

Mr John appears to be waiting for something and from the window; his right hand disappears. Gentle, regular movements can be observed – but then, the hand resurfaces because, although it can’t be heard, the phone rings.

 

He holds it to his face from where it had been reclining beside him. It is difficult to hear what is being said, but the mirrors in the room reflect the movements of his lips; his face is smiling. He is looking at the phone as though it is looking back. He finishes the call by stabbing the screen with his right thumb.

 

Somewhat slowly, he stands up. Perhaps his feet are causing him pain. He slips the phone into his pocket, then walks slowly from view, towards an area of the bedroom that can’t quite be seen. Possibly the door?

 

By now, slipping rapidly to the first window, which requires slightly more effort to reach due to the ground sloping downwards, it is indeed the case that he has moved from the bedroom, through the apartment, turned left and is disappearing towards the apartment’s entrance, reasonably briskly. Why?

 

At the front of the building, a medium white, four door saloon has arrived. The windows are unshielded, and inside the female driver is gripping the wheel tightly. The car is idling in neutral, perhaps two metres away from the entrance. From here, someone shielding their eyes, squinting against the glower of the midday sun, could make out that she is wearing a head scarf, concealing her hair.

 

No point in moving our vantage point though, because Mr John hops into the passenger side front seat. The car executes a right turn and drives smoothly into the carpark, just in front of his two windows. There is a little manoeuvring, before the driver pulls on the handbrake, but leaves the engine running so that the air conditioning combats the heat within.

 

Only the two heads can clearly be seen, side by side, safe distance between them. There is no contact, but a conversation is taking place, clearly of a friendly nature; to hear the words requires moving closer and this is not possible. Even if you were in possession of a good microphone and headset, to wear it would be obtrusive.

 

But now, the driver’s door opens and the woman steps out. Her clothes fit tight against her figure. They draw attention to her breasts, accentuated in a pleasing way; full, pushing forwards against a lightly coloured silken blouse. Her legs and thighs are slim in the dark trousers she is wearing and the curves of her haunches are graceful where they meet her woman’s belly which is very slightly plump in an erotic, fertile way. Her walk cannot help but be sensual, her gaze coy from within the scarf.

 

Quickly she steps, though, and occasionally her eyes startle as though being watched. In her left hand she carries a medical bag. She is a doctor.

 

As she reaches the passenger door which she opens, her quiet instruction is given and Mr John’s sandalled feet emerge. He passes her a cushion.

 

Now something astonishing and seldom seen. Kneeling on the cushion, she reaches inside the bag. Pulls out equipment. Takes off Mr John’s sandals carefully, one, then the other and lays them beside the bag.

 

“Maryam, what are you doing?”

 

“Don’t worry, Mister, I wash your feet.”

 

Mr John’s face cannot be seen, but his feet put up no resistance. So tenderly she uses varied cloths, wipes, antiseptic, creams, lotions and quietly, her head bent to perform this task, does she stroke, wash, rub, massage both feet. She takes her time as though it is a pleasure to do so. No words are uttered between the two, just an occasional sigh from the interior of the car.

 

Finally, Maryam towels his feet lightly, but thoroughly, and replaces the sandals.

 

Still kneeling, she looks up and into the interior of her car. Mr John’s hands reach out to her, but she ignores them. No. Refuses them. She pulls herself to her feet.

 

“I now must do this.”

 

Maryam reaches into her bag and pulls from it a large hypodermic syringe. She breaks an ampule deftly, clearly well used to such procedures. Without effort she fills the syringe with a dark red liquid. Mr John’s face can now be seen. He looks anxious.

 

Her hands push up the sleeve of his robe to expose bare skin. Only her back can be seen as she rubs his upper arm with a sterilising swab, ripped from its tight packaging. Now her finger is raised as she gently pushes the needle into the epidermis. She squeezes the trigger.

 

Mr John’s face tenses into lines, his eyes closed, his teeth gritted.

 

“I am sorry. It hurt. It is needed. It will cure feet.” Her voice sounds like a smile. When finished, she rubs the arm again and dextrously applies cotton and a plaster, although there is no blood, pulling the sleeve of his robe back down.

 

Again, Mr John holds out arms. In thanks or for comfort, it is impossible to tell, but Maryam refuses, instead just barely stroking the arm she wounded, but with an affectionate, hidden gesture, using the back of her hand, which moves down to his wrists, and then his thigh, so quickly, so sparely, so lightly, she might assume that it went unrecorded, unfelt and unremarked upon.

 

Now she closes the car door, walks back to the driver’s side and re-enters, doors are closed and the occupants once more sealed off from the world.

 

This time, however, there is no need for the metallic sunshields, as the air conditioning has been in constant flow; two heads and shoulders are visible. Mr John reclines back in the passenger seat turned towards her, the back of his head in shot, occasionally rubbing the arm, whilst she looks into his gaze, her own deep eyes warm and sparkling, her sharing mouth animated and humorous.

 

They are there for quite some time, but nothing can be heard over the idling engine and air conditioning, punctuated by the shrill calls of myna birds.

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, time has passed, and once again, how much has no importance upon events. Maybe a lifetime or merely just a sweeping second hand halo in lover’s heartbeats – it does not matter. The sun continues to scald the ground for longer than any heels would wish, splitting and forking concrete paths in two.

 

There is a medical centre.

 

It is an unobtrusive building. The flat roof forms a cap upon its two layers, like yellow marzipan sealing a layered wedding cake, the sun dappled walls resembling marbling. The windows are tinted; they wear dark contact lenses. It is possible to see out from within, but upon approaching and looking inwards, a person will only see a reflection. A mirror, if you like.

 

From behind curtains, the medical centre watches. Like every building, on every street corner, small surveillance cameras adorn its exterior. Little hemispheres and spheres, scattered like haphazard, grey baubles. So ubiquitous, in fact, that it is easy to forget they are there.

 

And most do. Almost all have become so used to being watched, it is buried within them. Accepted as part of life; in fact they have forgotten to remember they forgot, it has slipped, this signed contract in virtual ink, undisputed unless it is screened on television as entertainment.

 

At the roadside, in front of the medical centre, there are a handful of cars, scattered about. Some of them have been parked longer than others. Observe that they have a deeper frosting of hot sand upon their exterior shells; it drifts lightly this desert, ever expanding, carried by warm thermal currents on days like these.

 

The left-hand front driver’s door of one such vehicle, a large black Pajero, opens. A man exits, dressed in a long, white, cotton thobe, his head covered in a red patterned keffiyeh which moves gracefully as he strides up a paved path towards the door. His sandals kick carelessly at dust. It chokes thin needle leaves of unkempt brown-dirt vegetation engaged in the eternal struggle to not cease existing.

 

Opening the centres front doors, he is swallowed by its black mouth, joining the others within.

 

Next to the Pajero, notice the front and side of a strikingly coloured blue, yellow and black vehicle, marked with the word ALFAZA in a bold, sans serif font. Like the medical centre, its windows are tinted and gaze dispassionately upon the building. If anything is within, it cannot be seen.

 

Surely recognizable by now, our medium sized, white, four door saloon approaches the building. It slows, it pauses, it indicates - with flashing orange light, ready to turn right across the oncoming traffic.

 

The vehicle has moved slightly beyond the parked cars and is parallel to a small driveway that leads into a covered area bisecting the medical centre. The advancing traffic moves slowly, a sun-prismed relentless oil slick of unnatural colours that dazzle and blind.

 

Finally, a space appears, one that - with quick reflexes and some small amount of bravery - could be taken advantage of. It is risky, but what is the alternative? To sit forever, static, waiting for I dare not to become I would, like some poor cat, whilst behind, the traffic builds, expanding into a volcanic rage? The time for patience is over. It should be replaced by trust.

 

Those who hesitate are lost.

 

So, our car darts across and makes it safely into the covered harbour. There is a little manoeuvring, then the driver pulls on the handbrake, switching the motor off. It sits, engine cooling, and the covered roof shields it from heat, like a canvas tent.

 

For 50 seconds precisely, there is no exterior movement, just a blur of shapes inside. Then, the passenger door opens on the left side. Mr John emerges. His dark shirt is not really fit for purpose in this heat; his eyes shielded by jet black sunglasses. He puts his back to the vehicle in a conspicuous, obvious manner. It is as though he is forbidden to witness the activity the driver is engaged in, or perhaps he is hiding it from view, and a slight smile plays upon his lips.

 

What is the driver doing? It cannot be seen with any clarity, but it involves an arm fishing around on the back seat and a pair of shoes.

 

The driver’s door opens. Doctor Maryam is also smiling. A coy, shy smile; in apology, framed by the head scarf she is wearing. Her lips move. They are wet and even in the shade cast by this covered parking space, they shine with life’ contrary to the choking miasma of fine sand. She speaks and her words drift upon the air; just audible to any interested spectator.

 

“Forgive me, Mister, I can only drive with bare feet. They slip. I scared in case I cause accident.”

 

Mr John’s eyes glitter with amusement and wry understanding. “I did not look. I shielded you from embarrassment.”

 

“Come, Mister.” Maryam indicates the building. There must be doors leading into the interior. If so, they are obscured by her car.

 

She is wearing her mauve pink headscarf. Her professional clothes are modest enough, but see how her curves draw the eye; the beauty of her movement, an appetitive step; her breasts are cradled firmly enough but with each stride move visibly, rubbing against her soft, silken coat.

 

And, yes. Maryam and John do disappear through a door guarded by the car.

 

They can be followed if the main doors are used. Documents and I.D. cards must be presented to a receptionist, of course. Some reason for being in attendance that will not arouse suspicion. An enquiry about vaccinations, perhaps? That will certainly do.

 

After an initial conversation and some exchange of papers and certificates, the observer can be absorbed by the multitude already present. Pushed into the background and ignored. A medical centre is always busy.

 

Correct. Here are Mr John and Doctor Maryam. Now they can certainly by-pass any formal or bureaucratic procedures as described because this is her clinic; she is the doctor. Approach them, drift towards them like seed on wind, penetrate curtains thrown up by this press of people.

 

Look. Her consulting rooms.

 

They enter and the door is closed. All might seem lost to the spectator. The window set into the door is frosted, vague shapes are hidden, barely discernible. What lies within?

 

Wait. Another woman approaches the consulting room. Dressed in a white coat that covers most of her figure except slim legs, her head wrapped in a dark scarf. Steel-framed glasses glitter, catching the light, sending forth pricking shards that needle. She carries a board, made of stiff card, to which are attached notes bitten by a silver clip.

 

Move away slightly; let her through – she opens the door of Doctor Maryam’s rooms.

 

Inside, facing us, a long, wide desk, behind which are cupboards, glass fronted; they contain all manner of medical equipment and instruments. To the right, an adjustable clinic bed beside ultra-scan machines and monitors. Upon the bed are cushions and to the side a green curtain that can be drawn across if privacy is needed.

 

A comfortable stool sits in front of this bed, where a doctor could administer to the needs of any reclining patient.

 

Mr John, however, is sat facing Doctor Maryam at her desk in front of us. We cannot see his face, but he is sipping strong coffee that she has freshly prepared for him. Smiling, she breaks a small piece from a chocolate biscuit and passes it to him. In doing this, her hand hesitates. It is as though she would like to feed him.

 

She does not.

 

Her colleague is tapping the silver topped clipboard; an indication of impatience or attention.

 

Doctor Maryam’s voice is coy. Her brown, wide eyes cannot look at her colleague or the man in front of him “This is Mister John.”

 

“Good morning, Mister John.”

 

Mister John turns to face the door. He also smiles. “Good morning.”

 

The colleague returns the smile. Moves away from the entrance. But…she has left the door open. And so, all will be clearly seen. All will be heard. Wrapped within each other, they have forgotten, they are oblivious. Did they sign a contract? We cannot know.

 

“I told her about you. I am always talking about you.”

 

Doctor Maryam rises and indicates the medical bed to her left. He places his coffee on her desk carefully. Her hands, usually so strong, are shaking.

 

They do not touch. They cannot touch. They must not touch.

 

But as he reclines on the bed, all this will change. Can you not see it? She is a doctor, he is a patient.

 

She helps him to lie down. Removes his shoes. Sits before him. So gently does she unbutton his belt; push up his shirt, her fingers trembling as they press his stomach, his thighs, his chest.

 

She has not closed the curtain.

 

Mr John looks at her. She at him. In a fixed moment of whirlpool drowning, hands clutch for each other. Now they are grasped firmly.

 

“When I look in your eyes, I am weak, Mister.”

 

“You are so sweet.”

 

“I want to take you, put you here in my heart and lock it. Forgive me. I should not say these things.”

 

“My dearest, there is nothing to forgive.”

 

“It is too late. These feelings are in my heart. I cannot control my heart any longer, Mister. They will not leave my heart.”

 

“I am imprisoned there. How has this happened?”

 

Maryam’s face is obscured, but the backs of her hands move upwards. They are still shaking. She removes her crimson scarf and dark hair tumbles forwards like curtains. She moves her head downwards towards John’s chest and his hands can be seen gently running through her thick, glossy tresses in shock and wonder.

 

In amazement, John’s astonished hands are unbuttoning, the blouse opens, breasts falling forwards to brush against his mouth.

 

There is not perfect focus, but an observer might reasonably assume she is kissing his chest, her lips moving down so slowly towards his midriff where she had previously unbuckled his  belt. Somehow, John tenderly pulls at her so that she is over him, above him, straddling his body upon the bed. Her face looks into his, her hair falling, falling forwards.

 

It is at this point that both notice the curtains and the door have been open all this time.

 

Framed within? Two policemen. Led here by the steel-rimmed colleague. They have just pushed past; barely noticing us recording these moments.

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew hurled the book away from him with a frustrated growl. “That’s it, I’m done with this shit.”

 

The book’s pages fluttered heroically in an effort to stay aloft, before giving up the struggle and plummeting to the floor. It lay there, stunned for a while, as Matthew bludgeoned his keyboard with blunt fingers and thumbs, watching the processed text appear on his screen in satisfaction. “He’ll be crucified for this.”

 

A hand retrieved the book from the floor, dusted it down, thumbed at its pages in a flicking motion. “What ails you, my friend?” asked the voice to which the hand belonged, as it replaced the book on Matthew’s desk.

 

Matthew looked up with a scowl. “Why aren’t you busy? What you working on, Luke?”

 

“Nothing much. Your agonized howl drew my attention.” Luke grinned. “Are you going to see it?” He gestured at the screen, scanning the words Matthew had battered into submission from his keyboard: ‘Last Orders, Please: Closing Curtains on Opening Night’. Luke smirked. “Ouch. Good title. You don’t think it’ll have a long run, then?”

 

“The single worst play that has ever come across my desk,” responded Matthew, “thought I’d read it prior to curtain up. Bad decision. Fatal.”

 

“What’s wrong with it?” Picking the book up, Luke squinted at the blurb on the rear.

 

“Totally unrealistic. Dialogue written by a hack. No real people would ever sound like these two. What dialogue there actually is, to be sure.”

 

“What d’you mean?”

 

“Well it’s all exposition. Scene setting. Stage directions. In present tense – progressive, perfect, simple…it’s thoroughly unengaging. Uninspired. No thought went into it.”

 

“What does it treat on?”

 

Matthew snorted. “Treat on?” he scoffed. “Are you Bottom now?” He paused. “I didn’t finish reading it.”

 

“He won’t like that.”

 

“Bollocks to him.” Matthew raised his eyebrows and gaze, somewhat quickly. “It isn’t about anything. It has nothing to say. The characters do not come off the page. Unrepresentative of our diverse culture. No lesbians, homosexuals, trans-genders – not even a token bloke in a wheelchair shooting hoops. Just this straight, dull couple. And he’s obsessed with tits. Check out page 14.”

 

“Tits?” Luke echoed Matthew’s previous words, tossing the book back down in distaste. “He’ll be crucified for that.”

 

Matthew’s look suggested it would be justice served. “What did you say you were working on, mate?”

 

“I didn’t. Not much crime occurring. Just a couple arrested for sex in a public place. She’s married, he’s banged up.”

 

“Let’s piss off early. I’m done for today. Pretend we forgot to finger out.”

 

“Yeah, why not?” Luke stroked the back of his neck thoughtfully, then repeated, “Why not.” He paused, shivered a little and looked upwards towards the ceiling. “Do you ever get the feeling we’re being watched?”





Friday, 9 July 2021

From Heaven, Scent

 

From Heaven, Scent

 

 

She thanks him. For such joy that day we met,

she prays dreams never cease, I don’t forget,

unclasps her pink bag, open wide, fish inside,

presses my palms together like milky petals,

pushes a bottle of fragrant cherry sugar scent,

not frankincense, but her favourite – all heady,

swooning us, crooning, ‘my dearest Mister,

sweet like strawberry.’ If it was placed ready

early doors, she didn’t say, or an unplanned gift,

takes arms with gentle command, holds wrists

and anoints, then, ‘you shall keep,’ she insists.

To soak with her aroma my pillows and sheets,

neck, arms, thighs: ease night’s dripping heat.

Dark eyed trusting gaze wrapped in silk scarf

tight about her hair, no fingers venture there,

but perfumed, an apple press under long dress

of desert, only wanting a peeler to open wide

strawberry petalled wings of fragile butterfly.

In love with soft fingers, quick hesitant touch

hovering in hummingbird blur, a brushed rush

of shy accident; all shaking tentative request,

she tests me with questions; to furnish her nest.

Dream opening flowers, pull petal with thumbs,

and when the rain falls, the thunder will come.

Shower strawberry nectar, adore heaven scent,

spray her with fragrance till my bottle is spent.