An image and a poem
Inspired by a visit to Spain, mingled with memories of my mother.

Feathers From Cadiz

I bought bunches of feathers in Cadiz
from a shabby hat maker’s shop,
huddled in a cobbled alley,
the colour of half-ripe oranges.
Quills and curls of violet, teal, rust
are pinned to the bedroom wall
in slippery cellophane packets
with tiny, torn labels in the corners.

Outside, tan and amber leaves are feisty,
defying fog to shimmy on black branches.
In semaphore, a far walnut tree waves
and lobs a lone, gold, leathery leaf
onto a mound of cinnamon earth,
where mother lies in her jade dress,
head thrown back and pale lips taut,
as if imploring us to kiss her throat.

There is no chew, swallow, speak or spit.
Words are stuck and stinging hot,
stonewalled, wavering, fazed,
unfit to bite hard or bruise and ruin.
Pristine clouds say to mud: “You’re mine!”
and lumpy clay clods sip, sip, sip
tearfully at those dim, insistent mists,
loath to surrender to cerulean blue.

Transparent, cool fingers cup my elbow.
Old injuries in indigo and plum turn ochre,
as her lovely-lady smile ambles by,
waxen with glorious, raw ordinariness.
Her eyes are emerald glass beads,
fished from peacock puddles,
lit by chartreuse, copper and coral,
incandescent, like feathers from Cadiz.


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Copyright ©Louise Oliver 2003 – 2020

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