The smell and taste of cockles at the seaside always takes me to a certain place in a calendar. Calendars are for guidance; experience creates our own. January, was that not the time we discovered schadenfreude?
Between a sun and crescent moon, he stood on deck and filled his lungs. Wind circled in the palm of his hands. Pithy, these thoughts of meditation, cacophonies of bondage caught inside an untranslated meaning of a smile. A man’s world was always noisy. He preferred the roar of cities, the motion of land, and people. He gazed at the shadow standing by the Bridge of Baiae and asked why lakes carry a belly full of sky. Then let his hands fall, like the colour of jade, into uncaring waters.
One paw touched a cold kerbstone. I thought she was a jill. Her form too feminine for a jack. Against the wet tarmac I saw long ears with black tips, longer hind legs, distinguishing her from a rabbit. The fur on her back was dense, brown and grizzled, yellow colouration on her flanks led to a soft white underbelly. Maybe she was a witch? Her eyes were still open; startled as they searched for the moon.
Grandad taught him how to make a coal fire. He would wait to hear the outside coal bunker being rattled, then grab his blanket and run downstairs, taking pole position on the sofa overlooking the fireplace. Something hypnotic floated in a cold morning air. A soft hush from ash, shovelled from under the stool-grate and placed on yesterday’s headlines. Miner’s hands turned and twisted; paper turned into perfect firelighters. Precision and experience constructed beds of coal and kindling. A strike of a match, the thud of a damper. Golden glows filled the room. He laid back and breathed in the magic.
He had never seen a sparrowhawk this close. Three metres at most, as he camouflaged himself behind Aloe Vera’s across his window. Blue silvered wings shrouded her prey. Powerful limbs and speckled chest absorbed dawn sunlight.
Peck by peck she dismantled. A carpet of young pigeon feathers laid to confirm her regal status. His slight twitch alerted her. Sparrowhawk and carcass gone. Upstairs, his 6 a.m. alarm, a lament for a grieving mother, floated through the Mede.