It was summer then and hot, July perhaps –
the sky bright and cloudless blue,
the tarmac sticky-soft beneath our feet.
And I was young, eight or maybe nine,
my hair not thick, no, never thick,
but densely black and loose about my shoulders.
No wonder then, that separated from their queen
the sun-dazed bees should be confused
and swarming round my head should settle.
‘Be still,’ my father said. ‘Be still and calm
and they’ll not sting.’
Even now I feel their tiny feet against my scalp,
the motor of their hum, the rhythm of their wings;
my father’s fingers firm and sure, gently parting
strands of hair and lifting free each bee.
Even now I hear the soothing cadence of his voice:
‘Be still and calm. Be still and calm.
Be still. Be calm.’
Her Father’s Hands
She remembered his hands, smooth, unwrinkled
even in mottled old age, his nails perfect, square cut.
Hands which had led and taught and steadied,
had planted seeds, cut dahlias and gathered pears,
had warmed nest-fallen chicks, now stilled.
A cousin called to mind her father’s written word,
exquisite letters, balanced on the page:
foreign correspondence airmailed tissue-thin,
documents signed off by rolled-gold Parker pen.
Neighbours recollected clashes with his obstinacy,
polite smiles and quiet condolences masking
memories of bloody-minded tussles: disputed hedges,
the deaf man’s radio turned up a touch too loud.
Weeks later, grieving, she recalled a lover telling her
that rainbows were illusionary. They are, he’d said,
merely a function of angles: from eye, to rain, to sun.
Move, and the drizzle prism splits different rays
from different droplets, creates another mirage.
Back then she’d argued, wanting the colours
to be real, strung across the sky for all to see.
But now she knew her lover had been right.
My rainbow, she thought, is mine alone,
a function of these angles: from eye, to rain, to sun.
Soothed, she recognised this singular view of him,
and slept, cradled by the memory of his hands.
Angi Holden is a freelance writer, whose work includes prizewinning adult and children’s poetry, short stories and flash fictions, published in online and print anthologies. She brings a wide range of personal experience to her writing, alongside a passion for lifelong learning, Her family are central to her life and her research into family history is a significant influence on her work. She was the winner of the inaugural Mother’s Milk Books Pamphlet Prize and her pamphlet, Spools of Thread will be published by Mother’s Milk Books in 2017. Twitter: @josephsyard