Photographs by Jane Burn
Half open box of old tickets
coming out of quarantine
barcoded all in a fantastic forgotten
Some crumple in my fingertips
others more resilient, sharp-edged
I paw at them like collector’s cards
memories of a back row fumble –
love, death – the boring moments
you wished that time would pass.
I strike the match, drop it into
quietening voices, dried figs
…………I could never peel you back.
Every evening, as the sun falls on an other day,
Maite’s tea is ready and it’s time for her to go home.
Her father leans out of the fourth floor window:
“Maiiiiiii… teeeeeeee”. He calls her for supper.
………….a 4 second pause,
…………..just long enough
…………..to sink back into the evening.
Maiiiiiii… teeeeeeee… [a longer pause]
Maite, it’s time to fucking go home.
A coming of age
was what it was meant to be.
“Howay son. It’s time ye had a shave”.
I walked nervously to the bathroom.
Mother nodded. Obviously they had been talking about it.
My top lip was a caterpillar, crawling with each
strange smile – the thin hairs seemed to glisten
and I’d lick them with my tongue, imagining one day
growing a full biker-man’s handle bar moustache.
You told me how to hold the razor, how to pull it down
in the same direction as the hairs grow. “Just like pettin’ a dog, man”.
I cut my neck, my chin, my lip – the first blood spilt of nearly-adulthood
and a lifelong inspiration to grow a Santa beard, just as jolly as your own.
After a year, the air tastes different.
After air-conditioning, after big city dust
collar up traffic gusts – the air was stroked with sea salt.
My father couldn’t smell it but it sponged my pores
soaked me down; frost air, the sky the color of 1990s ripped jeans
the landscape pocked with rainbow beachhuts…
All change. All familiar.
Open Day at The Mormon Temple
no windows, it appears
but today is an open day “for all”
They call us hermanos, all smiles
cover our feet with plastic bags
we walk in lines in silence
Long light filled corridors, closed doors and
welcome us. Smiling volunteers who show us the path
A huge baptismal bath held by twelve cows.
Marble floors, immaculate white carpets
chandeliers of diamonds bigger than your car:
waiting rooms like those in posh spars
the grandeur of the Titanic: “Just don’t touch the chairs”.
We leave and are greeted with images of family:
Husband. Wife. Two perfect kids.
The temple has frosted windows.