Eyes Closed Against the Night

A poem in four parts



dipped her toe into the morning sunshine,

Naked, bar the cherry red nails, in anticipation of the day's heat.
Further out - foot flexed, arch to the sun, heel on the warming wood of the terrace.
She breathed.
Morning was for her mother, as she inhaled the small potted rosemary.
Her mother, turmeric skin and pepper hair
Clinging to a foreign herb,
So her hybrid children had hope of home
And tastes of belonging in her new world.

Sun took longer strides across the terrace.
Touching the new leaves of her runner beans.
The deep, burnt smell of soil hit her nose as she drenched them in water.
"The beans like to be watered first.
They get jealous"
Her mother's voice, on repeat in her head. 

The beans like to be watered first. They get jealous


Hot yellow yolk, dribbling down his fingers.

Bread soaked in melted butter and egg.
Sun burning a hole in his t-shirt through to the skin on his shoulder.
Al fresco eating,
Midday brunch.
"Coffee is my other office"
Cafes and MacBooks.
On a small table,
On burning pavements.
Mid-week working -
"Every day is a work day"

Pavements dry, hot
Under sun,
Late lunchtime lacquered
With grime and rot,
City under foot and close on his neck
Drying on his collar, from sweat
Dripping from his hair line.
Pavements strewn with barely opaque tree leaf shadows.
In one hand, a punnet of strawberries,
Their sugar oozing out, heady on his nose
Already fermenting in the heat,
Rotting in sweetness.




The gin was cold on her teeth.
Lemon rind at her lip.
From the window
She heard,
A train rush past.
In the sunset, against the noise of the city,
It sounded like the rush of long grass,
In an autumn breeze.

Salt on the tongue,
His fingers gripped the shot glass.
Tequila. The drink of his 20s
Stumbling into his 30s
The shot of adrenaline.
Warming, as a cool breeze came in the window
Off the back of a train, whistling past, in the near distance.
Turning, he knocked into her shoulder
Gin tipped from her lips on to her shirt.

"God, I'm sorry!"
"It's ok. There's always more gin"

Sometimes she felt like her skin
Was run with gin.
Juniper, the smell of nostalgia,
Centuries of misty-eyed memories
Under a ginger sky of a hot setting, equator sun
Locked in her limbs.
Long limbs of her father, with the skin of her mother but,
A paler shade of spice.

The cooling air, as the last strands of the sun took to the sky,
Raised his arm hair, as he stepped outside.
His stomach growled,
And dreamed of melted cheese, on toasted bread.
Thick slabs of bread, stuffed with seeds
Drowning in cheese,
Topped with his father's relish.
Grown from the garden.
His stomach growled
For childhood.
And the beginnings of winter on his skin,
His taste of home. 

When tears are warming, the season is cooling


Hot tears.
Hot tears, on a cold day – his mother used to say
Was the beginning of winter.
"When tears are warming, the season is cooling"
Or something of the sort.
His memory was lacklustre at five to midnight
His face felt hot,
The day's sun still on his skin
But tears were not forthcoming,
A pity, they would have been a relief.
His grinding teeth, grinding against the day
A shiver - 
No matter the season,
Dark nights always have a chill.
Chocolate between his thumb and forefinger,
Deliciously melting, and coffee in his other hand.
His morning coffee was always in the teal mug, topped with cold milk.
But at night, thick espresso in white.
His late night luxury. Bitter chocolate and rich coffee. 

She sat, staring at the doughnut
Vanilla cream poking its tongue out,
At her.
Window open,
Cross-legged on her bed
Cold night on her face, against her cheeks
Her room dark with just the street light,
Two floors down, lighting the sill and one wall.
Midnight was her hour.
She took the doughnut in her fingers.
And squeezed.
Watching the cream squish out.
And in her mouth, it was -
Soft, between her tongue and teeth.
Sugared fingertips,
Soft fried dough,
Three bites and it was finished.
She licked her fingers
And curled up.
Eyes closed against the night.