Another page in life’s book
Flipped by celestial fingers.
This uncontrollable fate
Closed to the past.
Whilst still I might bear it
A new year pulses
Behind these eyes.
For I’ll never see you…
The Bird Who Winked
The lake lingered beneath a shroud of New Year’s mist. It called to me.
I stood on the old abandoned jetty, the one my father had built, eyes skimming purgatory, imagining the freezing embrace of what lay beneath. I did so daily, but wished not to.
The impulse to do what I’d so far refused bordered on impassioned, I teetered on the point of madness. Jump, said the voice. We need you, said others.
I would have done so, wished to do so, strived to, and might but for the intervention of a trilling call. The robin perched on the rotting gangway in stark defiance of the bland mist at its back. I can beat you it said, though I knew the it was my Nanna — she’d always loved robins. The bird fluffed up its feathers, the low sun catching its breast to burn fierce and red, and trilled out a long thrilling call. It inspired. She inspired. And from somewhere deep within, a place I’d thought lost, a passion for life resurfaced.
“Not today,” I said to everyone and me. “See you tomorrow,” I smiled to the bird who winked goodbye.
Ghosts of New Year
Have you seen it?
“What?” I said looking around.
The Past. The Present. The Future.
“I’ve seen two of them,” I replied and jumped behind the fridge. There was nobody there.
Such a shame. Such a shame.
The voice ricocheted around the room as though the last lonely echo fleeing a subterranean tunnel.
“John, is that you?”
I had no idea why I said it because I’d only ever known one John and he’d died in a car crash aged seven. There was just something about the voice that made me panic, set my heart all a jitter; it unnerved me.
I wish I could show you the future as I see it in colours and sound and cascades of gold. I can’t, though. No, not yet.
“Look whoever you are!” I growled in as fearsome a tone as I could muster. “Who are you? Where the hell are you? And get the **** out of my house!” I let rip a tirade of unprintable expletives and kicked at the dog who scarpered away into the street through a door I was sure I’d left locked.
You… Here… No… The voice rasped against my ear in ice-cold breaths.
That instant my New Year’s Eve celebrations ended; I feared for my life. My tough guy act dropped to the floor like a two tonne crystal paperweight that shattered my everything into a billion tiny shards. I searched a room I’d spent ten years in as though never having found the door, located it, and then fled.
I shot through the kitchen into the living room and out the same door Sparky had scrammed through. I hurdled the dead rose bush, slipped and skidded over the gravel and out into the bleak city street just as the cathedral bells chimed twelve and a double-decker bus blew its horn. I’d never forget the driver’s look as a half-naked man with a glass of unspilt claret still clutched in his hand splattered against his windscreen.
This is your future, came the words of the dead, but only then did I realise I spoke them.
Lavender moon, lavender moon
Glimpsed on a Friday and gone all too soon
Circled the star lanes in violet swirls
Eye-shadow blinking like beautiful girls
Wondering if I’ll ever see you again
Mysterious meadow, delightful heaven
Hoping and praying ethereal gleam
Isn’t the hoax of a New Year’s dream
She ghosted into my life like a sheet in the wind, twirling and swooping through the new year’s air.
“Help me,”she whispered.
“How?” said I.
“Hold me, just hold me.”
To my credit, I tried. I wrapped my arms about her intangible self, but could no sooner clasp the morning mist.
She loosed a wail which tore at my soul, such immeasurable sorrow, her eyes of tombstone grey flicking open at my folly. I thought she might kill me then; I was wrong, as seemed my lot in life.
A strengthening breeze tousled my hair and pulled at billowing shirtsleeves. When I opened eyes I hadn’t even realised were closed, she’d vanished.
I think about her still in the darkening hours, when the bells of the new year chime. I listen and wonder to that sweetest voice as it always whispers,“Help me.”
I thought the clouds might look different at the year’s end. They don’t. When I look to the sky all I see are the same contained tears seeking escape; same sun trying to scorch them. Running is tiresome and no one likes being burnt. I think it’s time to stop.