Monthly Archives: June 2016

The adventurer and the teacher

The Adventurer speaks:

dragon-1111

You always stayed on dry land, swimming through arid sand. Never got your feet wet. Salt sweat sticking to your vest, grit chafing your delicate creases, sun peeling your blistered body.

You feared the lick of the waves. You though they may may like the taste of you, and, wanting more, slip through your cringing lips, invade your lungs, steal your breath away, replace it with filthy brine bitterly flavoured with the flesh of a million stinking fish and thickened with slivers of ancient shipwrecks.

You feared the towering breakers may crash over your head and drag you to the bottom of the sea . The ocean may feed you to sharks and the sharks may eat you.

“Swim where you will, but leave me be. I will not live my life in peril,” you said.

So I leapt, alone, into the sea.

I cannot say the sea was kind, but it was real. Oft-times I had to fight its sudden moods,
struggle to survive its angry storms. Though battered by its rage, I knew I was alive, and as I age, memories of every rising dawn; when calm seas were lit with sun, will ease my mind, and cheer me as I prepare to fall asleep that final time.

And where will you be? Dried to a husk, with nothing but memories of an empty life
to haunt you through eternity.

<> <> <>

The teacher replies:

book-862492__340

You were always digging for thrills, wading through weirs to find the eye of the hurricane, scrambling up crumbling cliffs, potholing without a rope, gazing into volcanoes to watch them erupt.

You said “What is life without excitement? Share my adventure. Let us rescue damsels, slay dragons, conquer swashbuckling pirates.

“Let us find danger. We will fight with teeth and fists and knives, and seek out many lovers, leaving every last one of them aching for our fickle embrace, while we hasten to the next city; the next castle or port; the next victory.

“Come with me.”

I said “I see more interest in a grain of sand than in the life you recommend to me.”

I watched you go. While you supped – and often choked upon – your chosen flavour of freedom, I read, finding the world weighed so little I could hold it in my hands. I leafed through it and found:

a platoon of long-dead soldiers in obsolete uniforms, saluting me;

an oak tree describing its seasons;

an amoeba magnified several millionfold;

the city of Rome in all its ancient glory, and the remains which stand today.

Fascinated, I studied further. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with learning. I selected a subject in which to specialise. I married a kind, intelligent woman, fathered a daughter and a son, and took pleasure in domestic life. I enjoyed a job in education, and I was successful – inasmuch as the majority if my students liked my lessons, quite a few used what they learnt from me to their advantage, and I was enriched by the experience.

I ate healthy food, had the occasional glass of good wine, and when I holidayed with my family, we stayed in average hotels in Germany and Spain. We walked well beaten paths, but they were new to us, and therefore interesting. In my younger days I played squash, but in recent years I’ve switched to bowls.

I often grumble, I have had a few misfortunes, but I have been happy.

My lifestyle fitted the type of ordinary orderliness that you dispise, but I chose it and delighted in it. It suited me, and has served me well. I will be sorry to die.

Most of your adventures were viewed through the distorted bottom of an ale bottle. You lie in a hospital bed, paralysed since that last inglorious drunken street brawl. You lived your life in fantasy, never accepting that knights have been consigned to history books, and highwaymen hung up their spurs long before you or I were ever born. There are no pirates, and dragons only breathed fire in fairy tales.

You have no family. I am your only friend, and you don’t like me. Will you be sorry to die?

©Jane Paterson Basil

That dress

vintage-1300

I was just nineteen
and the term “vintage” was applied only to cars.
Used dresses, coats and jeans were merely second-hand
or old, though if they were older still, they may be called antique.

It was 1974 and junk-shop clothing was a hippy thing.
Audaciously we flounced into charity shops and jumble sales
declaring in voices designed to carry:
I love these places, they’re such fun,
but let’s go to Dorothy Perkins when we leave.
We didn’t want to be labelled penny-pinching
even though our grants rarely stretched to the end of term,
and soon we would be surviving on a diet of spaghetti and tomato ketchup –
until the ketchup dried up, and we had to make do with margarine.

Like sheep that want to be something more interesting
but hope that the flock won’t notice,
we giggled to cover up our middle-class shame
tussling with aging customers, yanking blouses from their hands
as if we didn’t know they were holding them.
It seemed fair, because sometimes they did the same to us,
and anyway, we were young. We were beautiful
and would do justice to the shimmering red satin
or the cool blue chambray.

We pretended it was fancy-dress,
but in truth we adored the look.

Beaded and sequined flapper dresses in swish silk and chiffon
could be easily purchased
for less than a factory worker’s wages, but
that was too great an investment for me,
so I plumped for forty’s austerity
with it’s hardwearing fabric,
its prim sexiness sewn as if by chance into the seams.

I stroked my hips to feel the fine weave
practiced poses before the mirror,
admired the unusual detail.

In the High Street I slowed my pace beside glazed windows,
slant-eyed, subversively scrutinising my reflection.
The shop girls gazed down their noses, sneering at my vanity
while I saw only admiration in their eyes.

I told myself I was an original.
I still think that the dress may have been.
It was beautiful in its conception and its finish.
I wish the moths hadn’t eaten it.
It was treasure. It was Art.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Subtle grey

Tonight the sun set in streaky shades of subtle grey, is if it didn’t feel we were deserving of its blazing exit. As I watched it sadly fade away, I had the fanciful idea that it was saying:

“I have watched over you for eons. Without me your trees wouldn’t grow, and your first ancestor would not have been conceived. I give you life and light and health and more besides. Without me your earth would be dust, and you, not even a speck upon its infertile crust. Oceans would be frozen, mountains would not cast sharp shadow across the land. Darkness would prevail – deep darkness the like of which you have never seen.

“You need me, but I have no need of you. You clutter my view and you damage the planet, when you should be giving thanks for all that you have. You humans are forever grasping, always wanting more for yourselves, always thinking that the land you live in is yours, and like spoilt children, refusing to share. This will be your ultimate downfall.”

The sun disappeared behind the hills. Then, like an afterthought, it painted a portion of the sky in a ripe apricot shade, illuminating a wind turbine on the horizon. I gazed at the haloed wind turbine until the glow shrank and disappeared.

It felt like a last minute message of hope, and a quiet thank you for those who try to make the world a fairer place.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Those whose hair isn’t yellow…

“Good morning students. This morning we are going to discuss Metaphor. I’ll illustrate metaphor with my story of the little people of Halfworthy. I’ve drawn a sketch of them, showing their yellow hair, vivid blue eyes, and purple skin…

“- Yes, Calum?…

“You’re quite right. A few of them had different coloured hair, eyes and skin. These were people whose parents had moved there from other villages many years ago, or whose grandparents had been taken there by force, and purchased for slavery, before such abominations were outlawed. Although they were different colours, they were just the same as all the other villagers.

“…Halfworthians lived beneath rocks. The rich enjoyed spacious accommodation under big rocks and the poor made do with tiny, cramped rocks. The edge of the Road More Travelled was to the East, while directly to the West, beyond a sheer drop of over three feet (a considerable height for someone only four inches tall)…

“- Yes Calum, four inches is very little, now please take your feet off the desk.

“… As I was saying, there was a fast-flowing river to the West of the village. Other villages were dotted along the riverbank, and each village had its own language and customs, but these neighbours were a friendly bunch, and many years before, they had decided to start a club. All of the villages were invited to be members of this club – which was called the New Inclusive Club of Everyland, or NICE – but about half of the Halfworthy folk were of a standoffish nature, thinking themselves better than others, so they didn’t join at first.

“- Ashleigh, would you like to tell me what you’re whispering about?… Oh, for goodness sake, take this pamphlet and waft it around a little. The, um, odour will soon disperse. Perhaps Caitlin would like to go to the toilet? Go ahead Caitlin. Don’t run in the corridor, but don’t dawdle.

“…Whenever the NICE met, Halfworthy sent someone to spy through the clubhouse window, and every time, the spy returned to his village, discribing the multicultural splendour of the scene; the richness of accent; the wide variety of hair, skin and eye colours, and declaring that were they having loads of fun in there, particularly as each village placed wonderful local delicacies on the table for everyone present to enjoy.

“- Yes, Calum? … I don’t know if they had burgers… Yes, Kendal, I expect some of them brought vegetarian food… No Dan, I very much doubt that any of them were cannabals, and even if they were, it’s extremely bad form to take sweet-and-sour human to a multi-cultural function. Now could everybody stop being childish and I’ll continue.

“… In addition, between meetings, the members all helped each other out. For example, the micro-climate in Berryham was perfect for soft fruit, while the natives of Whizzbury built safe, sturdy clockwork vehicles. While club members were scratching each others backs, swapping products and services and having cosy coffee mornings, the Halfworthians were hanging around on street corners, disconsolately complaining about the price of blackcurrants and strawberries, which didn’t grow in their locality. Most of them walked everywhere, unable to afford cars, and were unwilling to to use the odiferous public transport system, which involved sitting on the back of a rat…

“- No, neither would I. Now would you all please stop interrupting… Ugh; Zavier, don’t wipe that on Dan’s sleeve.

“… Eventually, the village wrote to the club secretary and asked if Halfworthy could join. The Everyleans were delighted, and welcomed their new member-village with enthusiasm.

“At first the villagers were very happy, but, owing to the combination of greed, selfishness and stupidity of about half of the Halfworthians, some quickly became dissatisfied. They thought that Halfworthy was giving more than it was receiving. They didn’t like the rules, although those rules were agreed by democratic votes. What’s more, they were offended by the influx of people whose hair wasn’t yellow, whose eyes weren’ blue, and whose skin wasn’t purple. Anyone lacking just one of these attributes was considerd to be an enemy.

“Years passed. The rich got richer. They bulldozed the rocks of the poor to make space for extensions to their rocks. At night, those who whad been evicted sought shelter wherever they could. They were bitter and angry, but they didn’t know what to do about it. Even those whose rocks had not been taken were dissatisfied with life. They looked at the palacial rocks of the rich, and resented the meagreness of their own lives.

“- Welcome back, Caitlin… You used the boys toilet? Why?… Well, the next time you find the girl’s toilet blocked, could you please use the one beside the headmaster’s office… I’m sure you know you should have done that. Yes, you’re quite right, I did tell you not to dawdle, but… Just sit down, please, and I’ll continue.

“… People began grumbling, and the grumbles grew louder. Posters began appearing in windows. These posters declared that the people with different coloured hair, eyes and skin were to blame for everything that was wrong in the village. An unpleasant, sly faced man became their ringleader. Wherever he went, a self-appointed army of shaven haired thugs followed, aggressively displaying Nazi Swasticas, proudly brandishing Halfworthy flags, and declaring that they should throw all of the immigrants into the river.

“Now, students, you’d think that this would alarm the populance, wouldn’t you? But instead, about half the villagers agreed.

“- Yes, Billy?… no, I’m sure you wouldn’t have. I can see you don’t need this lesson as much as some, but please try to keep your thoughts to yourself, and would the rest of you all please stop acting as if you’re eight years old, rather than twelve. I’ve been patient, but it’s not funny any more. Dan and Xavier! Stop smirking, and put whatever it is you’re playing with under the desk. I don’t like your attitude.

“… The village was divided – about half the people thought the immigrants should go, while the other half considered the majority to be useful citizens, and useful to the local economy.

“Time passed. The nasty, sly man and his cohorts thought that Halfworthy should leave the NICE club, so it was agreed that all the villagers should put it to a vote. For weeks representatives of the two opposing viewpoints campaigned to win as many votes as possible. The campaign, which was unfriendly from the start, became positively nasty, and then viscious. I will not assail your delicate senses with the details, children, but instead go stright to the point.

“Polling day came and went. The next morning the 51.9% of people who wanted to leave the club were celebrating a victory, while the 49.1% wept for the future – of their village, and of their immigrants.

“Soon, as agreed, Halfworthy – which, in my opinion, should have changed it’s name to Underhalfworthy-  left the NICE club. In no time at all, villagers were complaining about the price of blackcurrants and strawberries. Almost everybody was unhappy because they couldn’t afford the things they needed, and nobody would do them any favours. Just over half of the villagers agreed that the people with different coloured hair, skin and eyes were to blame for all their misfortunes, and even if they weren’t, they had no right to live in the village because they hadn’t been born there, except for those whose parents and grandparents had moved there many years before, but they didn’t like to show favouritism, so early one morning they captured everyone who had different coloured hair, skin and eyes, tied them up, filled their pockets with stones, and threw them into the river, where they drowned. Unfortunately their bodies piled up, leaving a slipstream which affected the flow of water, wearing away the bank, making a hollow beneath the village, and one night during a particularly heavy storm, the ground collapsed under the weight of the rich people’s rocks, and everyone was drowned, not only the 51.9% of villagers who caused it to happen, but also the 48.1% of innocent people who wanted to continue to embrace the wider world…

“This story is a metaphor. Who wants to tell me wh…

“Dan! Xavier! Put down the knife! Leave Deepak al…

“All this blood… Billy… get my phone… my bag… Phone 999… Deepak… I can’t… somebody… help Deepak…”

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Mandrake of Harfinsain

Once it had been called the Old Man of Drake Lane, then the name was shortened to Drake Man, but these days the shrugging youth of the village of Harfinsain call it the Mandrake.

Some locals have different ideas, but many of us believe it was damaged in the wake of some long gone storm, which left it looking for all the world like a man turned to wood. The top eighteen inches of what is left of the trunk are torn into the macabre facsimile of a tortured man, his head thrown back, his nose pointing towards the horizon, his mouth agape as if screaming out to an unlistening God, his eyes screwed up in misery. Beneath that, two branches stretch upwards like arms, as if in supplication. The human look is finished off by the lower part of the trunk, which has a vertical groove in the centre, giving the impression of two narrower trunks fused together by time and growth – or of two legs pressed together. There are two knots in the area where knees would be, and at the base the roots give have the eerie appearance of feet.

Nobody can identify what kind of tree it is. It is claimed that experts have examined it, taking away small samples, but been mystified. It appears not to be related to any known tree in the world, and the age it had reached when it died cannot be calculated, as the rings are blurred, or perhaps non-existent. Rumour and mystery surround it, giving it an air of dark  glamour which attracts the children and young adults who live hereabouts.

From where it stands it offers an excellent view of the sunset, and sometimes a boy will entice a girl to sit with him, next to the tree, in the twilight. As the light fades and the sky turns to navy, he may tell an elaborate story of an evil man whose pleasure was to devour young, female flesh, and who was turned into a tree by an angry fairy. At this point in the tale, his voice may lower to a whisper, as he explains that the fairy added an extra cruelty to his punishment – that for one hour every year he would become human again, and have the ability to roam the villlage, but when that hour was up, he would be pulled by magnetic force back to his roots, and become a tree again. He would never be able to relax into his tree state – the longing to be human would torture him for evermore. After an eerie pause the boy will ask the girl what the date is. This he will whisper , as if suddenly unnerved – frightened, even. On hearing her response he will stammer while he tell her that he’s not sure, but he thinks it this is the day of the year when the tree becomes a monstrous flesh eating human…

The girl nearly always falls for it, which gives the boy’s friends – who are hiding behind the hedge – no end of entertainment. From time to time someone comes up with a more imaginative version of the story, and the friends behind the hedge are employed to add sound effects. Young men were ever this way, and a certain kind of young woman can always be relied on to be gullible and easily frightened.

Edie Penrhyn is the oldest woman in the village. A nimble lady of a hundred and two, she is often to be seen, walking-stick grasped firmly in both hands, angrily thrashing nettles in the garden beside the village hall. She has no more objection to the nettles than anything else which has the temerity to push through the ground in that area – many years ago the garden was a mass of colour, spilling over with roses, lavender and a profusion of lovely flowers, but she thrashed them into extinction. While this has nothing to do with my story, I mention it because it is just one example of her many eccentricities. It is those eccentricities which cause neighbours to doubt her tales of folk-lore.

Her favourite tale involves the Mandrake. Being so far from even the smallest town or place of interest, we get few visitors around these parts, but occasionally someone takes a wrong turn and and finds themself in the village. Often this someone will go to the Post Office in the hope of buying a postcard (postcards of the village are available, and they looked very pretty twenty years ago, but they rarely sell, so now they lie faded and forgotten in a corner, stuffed into an old toast rack, scuffed and curling at the edges), or wander into the village shop looking for a Mars Bar (79p) or a quaint souvenier (no chance). At such times, Edie almost always happens to be in the vicinity, as she is today, when a tinkling bell in the back room announces the presence of a new customer in the shop.

Edie has been installed in the shop for the past two hours, trying to choose a birthday card for herself, as her birthday is only eleven months away. This is not a vanity on her part, but a reminder for the proprietor, who generously allows customers a free sniff of her smelling salts on their birthdays.  Edie’s eyes light up at the sight of new blood. She abandons her search for greetings cards and prances over to the new customer, her grey side-ponytail bobbing and prancing like the item after which it is named, her thin lips grinning. Her old brown cardigan fails to conceal – and is loudly upsage by – a nineteen twenties chiffon flapper dress of faded emerald – replete with ragged swathes of sequins which have seen many, many better days, and striped over-the knee-socks in bright shades of pink, purple and orange cover her legs. Her choice of footwear is strictly ruled by the day of the week – on Wednesdays and Saturdays she wears no shoes unless it is also the first day of the month. The first day of the month is riding boots day. Today is a Monday, so she is wearing one green wellington, and one black one.

Edie says that if you lead with the feet, the bowels will follow. Don’t ask her what she means, it infuriates her not to be understood. She will scream at you “If you maintain regular habits with your footwear, your bottom won’t take you by surprise at incommodious times,” and she will smack you across the behind with her stick.

But I digress. Where was I? Ah, yes, Edie has just sighted a victim and is dashing full-pelt towards him, tail flying and tiny sequins tinkling across the floor. She accosts him with a torrent of nonsense.

“Yer, you over there, you wi’ the noo plastic an wet tarmac ‘smell o’ the city on yer kaks.’Tis a bit o’ luck you run inta me. Come on, I’ll show ‘ee summin inter’sting.”

(just a quick note at this point: unless addressing a stranger she speaks in a rather refined accent – her fake rural accent is for the benefit of unlucky tourists – but after a few minutes of her barrage, she generally slips back to her natural way of speaking, as she feels that if they have stayed to listen to her for that long, they deserve to be considered naturalised)

Having made a suitable introduction to her quest to educate him in a small portion of the history of the village, she grabs his arm and pulls the protesting man out of the shop – showing herself to have a remarkably firm grip – to the general laughter of all around, except the shopkeeper, who was hoping to aquire 79p from the sale of a (three years out of date) Mars Bar.

For a woman of a hundred and two, Edie sets a fast pace. She’s a diminutive four-foot ten inches in height and she’s inadvertantly pulling his arm in a downward direction, so he’s stooping, staggering  and almost falling over at times. As they dash along the road, people are coming out of their houses and following behind, making a procession. They know when there is entertainment to be had.

Down past the church she drags him, past the old house that is said to be haunted by a ghostly giraffe (though some think it is more likely to be a pair of Armadillos), beyond the pond which only fills up when there is a drought, and down Drakes Lane, situated opposite the invisible football pitch (which some claim doesn’t actually exist. I haven’t managed to work out their reasoning). The Mandrake is towards the end of the lane, on the left hand side, or the right hand side if you are walking backwards.

By this time Edie’s unwilling companion is shaking with terror. The Lane is regularly used by the villagers, as its purpose is to provide access to a wall. This wall is the width of the lane, twelve feet high. The locals do not like to be in the shadow of a twelve-foot wall, but unless they stand beneath it they cannot escape it, as it is impossible to escape something which isn’t there in the first place. It gives us peace of mind to know we have escaped the shadow of the twelve foot wall, so most of us go and stand beneath it every day, and then walk (or run) away. But the poor stranger knows nothing of our customs. Between the people who are in the process of escaping the shadow of the twelve foot wall, and the procession behind him, all he sees is a huge gang of locals who appear to be planning a lynching, and at this point he wishes he’d had a chance to pay for the Mars Bar. To be hanged for a debt of 79p is humiliating, to say the least.

Edie stands in front of the tree, and points up at it’s twin branches.

“See ‘e there,” she says, and then realises her new companion has spent almost eight minutes in her presence,so she drops the accent and starts again:

“Now, my good man, what do you think this is?” she asks him.

His eyes stare. He tries to think of an escape plan, but nothing comes to mind. He is frozen to the spot.

“Well?” she asks, a crease on her forehead forming something that for all the world looks like a question mark.

“A… a… g-gallows tree…” This is a statement, not a question. The stranger is too frightened to notice that no rope hangs from it.

“Why do they all say that?” Edie mutters, shaking her head, (thinking, these foreigners are so peculiar – what horrors they must have witnessed.)

Edie turns to her audience “Tell the gentleman what this is,” she says.

A young man tells the story of the flesh eating man who was turned into a tree.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” scoffs Edie.

A woman in her fifties says that it is true that the tree was once a man, but he had committed no crime. It was he who had built the wall, but as stood at the top of the ladder, finishing the top course, his wife came along to give him some lunch. She was carrying their new baby, and he didn’t hear them approach. They were under the ladder when the baby let out a sudden wail, alarming him. He fell off the ladder, killing both wife and child, andwas so grief stricken that he was unable to move. His feet took root, and he turned into a tree.

“That’s just plain silly,” says Edie. “This tree is over twenty feet from the wall. If he took root where he landed, he would be closer to the wall.”

Nobody notices the stranger as he walks away, feeling rather embarassed but no longer afraid. It had become obvious that these people, though a little peculiar, were harmless. Life in a village such as this would probably be a riot of fun. He would have stayed longer, but he had urgent matters to attend to.

The young man speaks up again.

“My grandma told it to me, and her grandma told it to her. My story is true, and what’s more, she said he buried the bones of all those girls he killed, right there, beneath where the tree stands. We know why are there no female children in the village. It’s because as soon as one is born, the family move away. They don’t want to lose their daughter to the monster.”

Some people laugh, others feel the hairs on the backs of their necks rise. A few come up with increasing outlandish theories, but all of them have been heard before, like a favourite play attended once too often. People get bored and begin to wander off. The insistant young man remembers another detail told to him by his grandma, and somebody else recalls being told about a seven-year old girl who disappeared in the night over thirty years ago, and a toddler who was lost just a few years before that.

Edie becomes increasingly impatient, declaring it to be no more than a dead tree, leading me to wonder, as oft times before, why she dragged another stranger down Drakes Lane to look at what she averred was no more than a dead tree  – but as I said before, she is eccentric – and that is the signal for the party to break up.

As the last of the villagers turn away from the tree, and walk down the lane to go home, if anyone cared to listen, they would hear strange creaking sounds coming from the tree. If they turned back to look, they would see its eyes open, showing otherworldly twin stars that twinkle red in the waning light, and the gaping mouth widen into a cruelly mocking smile, as the jagged shard that resembles a nose twitches, sniffing the air, and smelling something. Something young and sweet. Something delicious. The earth around him shudders as he shuffles his roots,stroking and carresssing, wrapping them possessively around small, perfectly preserved bones, counting each one.

Beyond the invisible football pitch; beyond the pond that only fills up when there is a drought; beyond the house that is said to be haunted – either by a giraffe or a pair of armadillos; beyond the church and the Harfisain village shop, there is a thatched cottage with clematis growing up the wall. In front of this cottage is a removal van. The stranger helps the removal men to carry furniture into his new home. In the kitchen his wife pulls a kettle, some teabags, sugar and mugs out of a box. She fills the kettle with water. She stops and listens. Her face lights up with love, and she smiles softly. Her eighteen month old daughter is stirring. She has woken from her nap.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The wisdom of Eternity

moon12344.jpg

so how are you now?
if death is kind you do not rest in peace,
you were given too little joy on earth for that to be your fate –
maybe you’ll do it later
when your need for fun is fulfilled.

I hear your laughter echo in the distance
as you direct naughty winds to silly, harmless deeds,
lifting policemens’ hats from their heads;
playing tricks with impish glee;
dropping feathers on my shoulder
to see how long they cling;
stealing rides on tops of trains;
altering the colours of hidden underwear;
opening buds, that  petals may gleam in the wrong season;
flying to distant lands that only live in dreams,
to return when the moon is on the wane.
smiling with the wisdom of eternity,
as you stroke the hair from our sleeping faces,
wishing to ease away the vestiges of pain
and yet knowing, as we do not
that within the backdrop of all that is
our hurt is but a little thing.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Absent

my hands act out the usual tasks
my feet walk down familiar paths
I brush my teeth, I shower, I cleanse
my eyes take in the sky, the street
I chew as normal when I eat
and when I go to visit friends
I make believe its such a treat
my chatter hiding false pretence

without a hint of abdication
the brain conveys its information
and yet I feel as if I’m dead
and when I laugh, or smile, or cry
all the humour, joy, and misery
Is not felt inside my head
but somewhere far removed from me

©Jane Paterson Basil