• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 11


'Look', she says, peering down at my hand,
turning it over to better see its landscape,
its crests and furrows, its gnarls and liver spots.
She frowns as she fingertips her way
along the ribbon of a tender ridge
a reminder of blackberrying,
when a bramble caught beneath the ring
her grandfather placed on my finger
fifty years earlier sprung free,
drawing beads of blood through tissue-paper skin.
She touches it gently. 'It's a hurty', she says.

I stay silent, though I want to tell her
No, the real 'hurty' is buried
much deeper, where you cannot see.

It is the pain of brief hellos and longer goodbyes,
of letters and telephone calls, and parcels in the post.
It is the throb of distance, it is the ache of missing.
It is made of moments when I stand alone in my garden
and look up at the moon, knowing only
that the same moon peers back
casting its mellow light through your curtains,
across your handstitched quilt,
your outstretched arms,
your closed and dreaming eyes.