Stray Rein in January by Becky Cherriman


The wind’s teeth rip
new holes in my jeans,
tear the breath out of the three of us,
Me so deep inside my days,
I barely knew my friends were there
that whole exposed mile.

Is that how it was? I’m not sure;
you have to revisit your memories, don’t you,
remake your own image in them?

Liz spurred me along,
led me to water,
the domed well
I had forgotten was there,
a 12-pillared miracle,
++ silhouette sketched by lapwings.

We were sixteen then
and I was planning to make muteness
a permanent state.

Dragged from a room so cold
that miniature stalactites hung from the head jamb.
This was the alternative I was offered –
to pace the ledge, tread the width of each stair,
turn circle after circle,
+++ pawing at the edges, looking for the source.

Hard to see in the dim light
but there – a brass tap
with the handle snapped off.
Still. I told them I used to dance here
before my parents’ divorce.
Hulked over by the horse-chestnut
grown monstrous on chalybeate,
we tried it, flung our limbs around,
+++ trying desperately to get warm.

I remember that and, approaching the bridge,
the fearsome echo
+++ of something I couldn’t fathom

reverberated in my bones like…
There was snow?
Yes, I recall the thaw of someone else’s
++ footprints as I stumbled back.
+++++ ‘A train,’ Karen said and we watched it flash
++++++++ towards the future, trailing its echo

By Becky Cherriman

Stray Rein in January by Becky Cherriman

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