You were required to rise much earlier And did so without the expected grunts of complaint. Six hours to chop down my unaware tree. Four hours to grind your axe to the sharp point. Time to gather your sacrificial altar stump, Your mushroomed- edge wedge, Sledge hammer to finish the job, Safety glasses, blind with steam That made you look intelligent If a little distant and opaque. You learned how to stand and haul the maul Above your head, velocity over mass, The most eective blow. Striking the stump’s circumference at its weakest point Not at the heart of the log Driving the blade into the existing flaws, Avoiding obstructive knots in twisted grain. You posed like a champion in the art of manliness. Built a louse riven woodpile seven feet high, To feed your new love, All curved pot belly, Pretty cast iron feet, Kneeling before her, All day everyday. Stacking her kindling on her tinder grid, Checking her draft, the constant stoking. Whispering encouragement Into her sooty flue pipes Building her base with my unread magazines And much-loved books. Breathing her scent and blushing in her heat. Rubbing your hands like a praying mantis. And sucking out the splinters from your calloused palm. The volatile compounds stick in my crall, I fed her your love letters and your photographs Until a hail of her ember spores consumed the kilim, And anointed my forehead with ash.
It was the third day of darkness In that weeping, freezing January. Half of the O’ Connor girls had melted In a house fire, Just down the unlit street, Bri nylon nighties huddled around the gas fire And lardy string candles From the shop that was always sold out. My father, abandoned, bent over the gas stove. Like a crumpled Atlas with the weight of the world Pressing down on his broken shoulders. Steam wraiths wound round him, tormented, As he scooped black mussel shells From their broth bath Tossing the dead that refused to open their doors Into our yard through our kitchen door Now punch cracked Its starcrackled pane bellying outwards Held flimsy with ribbons of tape. He lit another cigarette, Left it to lie in a row on the kitchen tiles To burn down to another Drooping tube of ash And a sticky pool of tar. From my hiding place Under the drop leaf table In this tiny off shot galley I saw through the portholes of his soles The old cigarette packets used to patch his shoes. Landlocked, we smelled of the sea. The storm lantern, from its nail, Banged in the loosening plaster Above our heads,swung , While I made shadow puppets Against the walls Playing out the story of my glorious escape.
She came with a yellow wind warning, After a sudden, shock - snap of cold, Following the calm and the balmy warm A jealous and cruel Barrelling storm. Bowling over plant pots, Exposing new roots to frost, Ripping my baby seedlings Helpless from their cots. She severed the limbs from the sycamore Soft green hands mosaiced the street. Stripped blossom from bridal orchards Dead confetti under lead feet. She lassoed the seagulls in from slate sea Dashed their brains againsts rocks and the walls Spun hedgehogs into sea urchin spheres With her cyclone of spiralling squalls. She scattered the sand scooped up from the strand, Then banked up the roads with new dunes. Battered the bay, commanding the waves, Uprooted the chimneys with ease. She tore down the poles in a tantrum, Sent clouds to wind thrash the moon, Kept you locked for too long inside your house, Watching helicopters rescue the seas, Searchlights a blur and somewhere there’s me. I wait, And I cried for the trees.
Pierangela Lunghi is a recently retired arts teacher who takes her inspiration for her writing and art from the people, places and events from her coastal environment in South Wales and from her time spent living and travelling abroad. She has been invited to perform her work at spoken word events.