The Catch

Whilst the North Sea commits suicide over the rocks of Northumberland, the town’s fishermen repair their nets and pots. It’s hard to figure the coarse, knotty meshes piled at their feet for the silken webs the men back home spin over their heads; like the most skilled pizzaiuolo, my fellow Florentine’s artistry set their nets so delicately on the Arno. …

Dead on Seven

Dead on seven o’clock, the curtains to the theatre rise. The orchestra’s bows await their cue in pregnant stillness. Marek Parell awaits his own, fixed under a simple spotlight. He’s not moved an inch, yet already grateful applause rolls over the footlights like loving surf. His first solo performance, and all he can think about is her: the smell of …

To Everything a Season

I never thought eBay would contribute to my grieving journey, but then I’d never heard about Mourning Seeds until my browser history and poor privacy settings conspired to start suggesting products I might want every time I opened a browser window. I closed ad after ad (Cribb’s Funeral Services; Eco-coffins; even EZ-Cremain – American, naturally), but the day I finally …

Down There

Another night of poor sleep. Ever since lockdown started it gets harder. We went to bed around eleven, and within five minutes she’d fallen into a deep slumber (if the soft pop-popping of not-quite snoring was anything to go by). It was a small mercy – at least I wouldn’t have to lie still. The awful curtains reminded me of …

Oh, Jump, and I’ll Come to You, My Love

To run with white horses, white horses, white horses. Oh, how I long to ride them with you. Because the cleats of life have left boot mark scars on my skin, and cast my torn petals to the swine of chagrin. But I still believe after all, I still believe I’ll be dressed and refreshed, tumbled and polished; my thorns …

The Heredity of Memory

She hasn’t known me for years; instead of throwing hugs she just casts spears, her careworn face now lined with meanness. It’s hard believing things mother once told me: ‘I’ll love you evermore.’ It started with the bears she saw supping in the gloaming. ‘Four of them, as real as day, with teacups of bone china.’ She speaks of them …

Owen Come Home

Sometimes in July, when the wind cries in the right direction, I hear a tremulous calliope sighing across the flats. As a child I would sit out there for hours listening and daydreaming; giving form to my mother’s words. It’s calling to them, Owen, calling to the ghosts of the past; telling them to come and entertain again. I can …

The Reedy Shoals of Havisham

Under a goose moon, he calls amongst the lament of waves, whispering in ripples. Spring arrives once more. Is it really time to start thinking about death again? Everything’s a reminder since he lost her. Yesterday was laundry day for the man that feeds bread to the ducks. He passed his bungalow on Dorsey Road, and did a double-take – …

The Rime of the Brackish Mariner

The wind speaks in Roquebrun. A labyrinth pond there I once fished as a boy, where darting, infant mullet kissed a fallen mirror. Away, behind eyelashed dunes, mother languished and father malingered on a Martian beach. Ahead, a choppy fringe of mountains loomed and in between, and all around, the Mediterranean’s zephyr played and urged: This way, not that! And …

Breaking the Seal

As Provost, I found myself in that agreeable position rare of antiquarian scholars in that my summer was unplanned. I (in those days of my earthbound hubris, a Prospero of the sciences man can measure) decided on the Purbecks, perhaps playing the links of Swyre Head. Rambles along the Suffolk beaches had lately bored me and I longed for the …