She has cut her hair, like
and not like I did
to stand up
like a beam
to her full height
in new shoes printed with
plugged into the world
at the end of her charger
and what is left
swept out of her clear eyes
not a shame, not a shrinking
that straight connected neck
a mast –
far below, dead ends on the floor
flicker with static.
Nothing is ever quite that colour.
Not ladybirds, not lipstick,
Not a single felt tip from the tipped-up box,
Not flags, or fish, or cherryade.
Not the flush of snowday cheeks, pinked
Blusher called geranium or the garnet on her knuckly finger.
Not blood, or oranges.
Her door would open and
The summer smell of the colour of geranium would reach for us.
Pots lined up along the skirting boards and crowded the
Crowded kitchen, colouring in every step and shelf,
Every sill and seat, every sister.
My garden fizzes with flagrant geraniums.
I bring them in from the snow, and keep my house warm,
And line up red lipsticks that are never, quite, that colour.
These are key, bright kindnesses
Yellowmittens on a sharp morning
A warmer hand in the staffroom
Or at the vets once, with an empty cage.
These squeezes, first-flutter easy -
Peasy as please - thank you
Like the brief and everywhere drizzle
Of lemon in that cake.
She has burned them all,
Her bridges and boats and before
She knows it
The wind changes
Catches her clean hair
Like a fuse, ready
To go. Ghosted.
Here, cold remains
Burn blue and slow
And low and
there, the others
Are long gone. She faces the glare
Of their sails in the morning sun
With crucible eyes, with gold.
The tawny owl, amulet-eyed
Peers amber, berry-black from the gold frame.
The little owl, silver-weighted, perches
Nested in bookspines, watches.
The lamp owl glowers, flower-shaded
From my landing table.
Light-blurred, for a moment
After the funeral of the man who loved owls,
The barn owl flew softly alongside in the dark.
About the Author
Nia Broomhall is studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.