Stray Rein in January by Becky Cherriman

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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

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Stray Rein in January by Becky Cherriman

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