A Place to Rest

Written for Visual Verse Anthology’s May edition: Artwork by John Everett Millais

There’s a storm coming
but you tell yourself it’s okay 
to stop and feel the sun, 
to sit in this skin of warmth
the tingle of it shimmying 
beneath cloak and garb

and your daughter rests too 
warm as breath on tired legs.
So you whisper that you love her
because that is all you can think of
to say about why you’re here

in this rain-threatened lane
with mud and love and God’s own eye
and the piano accordion you 
grabbed before you fled
that red face and the rum bottle
lifted like a flag of violence.

Your daughter left her school desk
obedient to every whip and whisper
and came with you into the shrugging day, 
among the clouds whose shoulders offered no sympathy
just like the villagers who looked away.

And now this, this colourful arc
offering dreams of heaven
or is it a sarcastic frown?
You close eyes that are dry for now
but the storm’s breeze sends its fingers
to mar the only moment yet 
to think that everything might be okay.

Your daughter touches the instrument in your lap
and whispers “Mama, will you play?”
and you hug her tighter than is safe
and hear her gasp and with lips
beside her ear you say
“Tonight, my sweet, before you sleep
in the warmth of some barn,
we will sing and feel it fill our bellies.”

And so you rise again
as the first spit finds your cheeks
and with your hand in hers
you bend into the cusp of wind
trying to smell the future 
on its rumless breath.

6 thoughts on “A Place to Rest

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