Memorial to Simplicity

It’s no longer the place I grew up in. It hasn’t been for a long time.

Back then, women pushed prams along the Main Street, while stopping to chat to every other person. A neighbour, a friend, a connection.

Local shops spilled their wares onto the pavement and whitewashed prices in their windows, enticing shoppers in with a smile and a service second-to-none.

Standing beside my mum at a counter that rose high above my head, while she read from her list of requirements. Or, sometimes, she handed it over.

Staff got busy, collecting and packing from high shelves and a back-shop too impossibly small  to support the vast array on offer.

Butter was patted and wrapped in waterproof, cheese sliced with a wire stretched between two wooden handles.

Workers scurried back and forth behind the counter while I admired the niceties behind the glass, touching with fingertips and nose.

Mum paused briefly in her bletherings to tap my hands away, me guiltily looking at my fingerprints left on the glass.

‘Do you want that delivered?’ they would ask.

‘Yes,’ was often the response.

Double-checking the address was merely a courtesy.

Freddie’s cafe followed. Booths with red-vinyled seats back-to-back, filled with mums and kids. Italian ice-cream made from scratch smothered with raspberry sauce, licked till the bowl was clean. Another tsk! from mum.

At 13, I had my first part-time job in this cafe, serving with a smile and pleasure; to be part of a world where chat and good cheer were pervasive.

Those days, a memorial to simplicity.

 

 

Second Time Around

7.15a.m. First coffee and a cigarette. Pleasure grasped from my grasp by a dog with a need to be out.

Spotted wellies and a rainjacket take the collie for a walk, through wet grass and sodden ground.

An earlier rain drips from the trees while this fresh fall plays tic-tac on the leaves.

I go where I’m led, my half-awake self bidden by a dog on a lead.

Business accomplished – his relief satisfied. Mine has just begun.

Second coffee and cigarette and a house still asleep. Almost just as good.

 

An Illicit Pleasure

Back and forth,

Up in the air,

Stomach somersaulting.

Stolen treats

On children’s swing,

Heart to mouth pole-vaulting.

 

Someone comes.

It’s not a kid.

The parkie’s on his way.

Jump off fast before you’re caught.

That really made my day.

 

Gasping air,

Knees to chin.

No wonder kiddies love it.

So much better being on board

Than standing by to shove it.

Mmmmm?

What to buy?

What to cook?

What to eat.?

Necessary food,

A disinterest,

Forcing me to my feet.

 

Yum, yum, yum,

May I have some?

Yorkshires and that meat.

Not for me,

I’m on a diet,

Can’t add that as a treat.

 

I’m not hungry quite as yet.

Well, maybe one wee tater.

Leave the rest upon my plate,

I’ll eat it all up later.

 

I’m vegetarian now.

Well, almost,

Except for spinach, beans and sprouts

And anything that smells like vegetables.

Those are definitely out.

 

Can I leave this?

I feel quite sick.

Don’t force my stomach, please.

Until an hour or two has passed,

Then I’ll have some toast and cheese.

 

Little children eat it up.

Bigger ones a pain.

Suck it up, I often say,

I’m not doing this again.

 

Now, often they will cook their own

And maybe for us all.

I eat the lot, not one complaint.

Just glad it’s not my call.

 

Restaurants are such a joy.

A waiter and a chef.

Relax, read off your choices.

Plates cleared, there’s nothing left.

 

I may just start a café

With menus for a choice.

Opening hours and closing ones.

Meals presented with a large invoice.

Mine or Yours

Who told you to touch that?

That cotton wool is mine.

I’m warning you, leave my stuff,

This is the last time!

 

Buy your own!

Leave mine alone!

I don’t touch yours, so there!

Well, not unless you’re not at home

And I’m stuck for what to wear.

 

But I wash it then

And put it back,

Hide my sneaky forage –

I don’t leave you with nothing –

And a drawer that looks like porridge.

 

I’m telling you,

I’m telling mum.

Just listen when I yell.

Leave my bloody stuff alone

And I’ll leave yours as well.

 

Except for this.

Can I borrow that?

I’ll take good care.

It’s just a hat.

It goes with what I want to wear –

Your dress that’s lying on that chair.

 

Just one shot

And then we’re done

And you can share my make-up

But, don’t tell mum.

She’ll have a fit.

She doesn’t like you caked-up.

 

I’ll disarm her with a smile,

I’ll draw her fire for you.

Lend me this, you have that,

That’s just what sisters do.

 

OK, pet, I love you too,

But, sometimes, you’re a pain.

Four years separate our lives,

But let’s just try again.

 

We share a room,

Now, let’s share stuff,

But have a bit of thought.

Borrow what you have to,

But not the stuff just bought.

 

Let me have first dibs on that,

I worked to buy that dress.

Let me wear it once or twice

Before you make a mess

 

Of all I own,

All that we share,

All that, in love and war,

Is fair.

 

Let’s call a truce,

A pipe of peace,

Put your hand right there.

Quick, make up

Be friends again,

Mum’s coming up the stair.

 

No, no, mum, there’s nothing wrong,

Everything’s just fine.

All her stuff is her stuff,

And all of mine is mine.

 

Except, sometimes,

When need is great

And a sister is your friend.

Only then, yes only then,

We’ll borrow and we’ll lend.

Go On

A blemish, a scar,

A wrinkle.

Bone broken,

Ligament torn.

Creaking, cracking,

Movements.

As we age,

This is the norm.

Lubricate,

Dye and lie,

Nourish,

Inhale, exhale.

Get up, go on,

Move onwards.

Struggle.

Life will prevail.