Elan Valley

Percy Shelley’s house hid under the lake
And I quoted a line or two about sleeping lions
Stood looking out on the bridge
With you and your friends

Across fields we rambled
Looking for mushrooms with magical properties
I felt a deep and healthy fear
Looking at the vastness of the land

They ran chanting like Indians
Through the pine trees and down a slope
I couldn’t keep up
And for a moment you all disappeared

We stopped to fill a water bottle
At the stream I took a moment to think
That everybody should live
Quiet and simply, just like this

Talking about getting older
At last we walked through the heart of Elan Valley
And you said that Leonard Cohen captured how it felt
To be twenty-seven

Whilst looking silently at your face
I knew that I would never forget these days shared
And that this was one of the happiest moments
Of my life

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HAZMAT Suits

I’m sat in a cafe with my mother, there are newspapers spread out across our table and every single headline says something about how we’re all going to nuclear war. I look at the words ‘nuclear war’ and I look around the cafe, nobody seems to give a shit that we’re all going to be turned to dust any minute now. They’re just looking at their phones, chatting away to their friends, going goo-goo-ga-ga with their babies, eating their bacon sandwiches like usual. My mother has been trying to tell me something important, I can tell by the look on her face, but I haven’t really been listening. I tune in quickly to see if there’s anything good on mother FM.

‘Even when you were a teenager, you were totally obsessive with boys, calling up Billy every hour, crying down the phone, totally hysterical because you weren’t going to see him for twenty-four hours.’ ‘Nope’ I say to myself ‘just the usual rubbish’ and tune out again. NUCLEAR. WAR. NUCLEAR. WAR. NUCLEAR. WAR. Why aren’t any of them building bunkers in their gardens and buying HAZMAT suits like any sane person would do? ‘Look Mum’ I say, interrupting the white noise coming from her opening and closing trap and pointing to the headlines ‘nuclear war.’ She just looks at me, as if to say ‘yeah and so what?’ ‘Aren’t you frightened?’ I ask her.

I am frightened, I’m fucking terrified. Ever since that terrible nightmare I had. I could hear the bomb falling out of the sky like in cartoons when they drop the anvil over the cliff and then this bright white and green light went off so I couldn’t really see anything for a few moments. When my vision finally returned, all I saw was a wall of fire coming towards me in slow motion. I tried to crawl under something beside me but it was pointless. I slowly watched my outstretched fingers turn to ash right in front of me, then my wrists, then my forearms, then the rest of me. I felt my entire body be burnt to nothing until there was just a black outline on the floor where I once was. Then I woke up.

‘I lived through the Cold War darling’ she says with slight condescension ‘you just get used it.’ ‘Bully for you’ I say sarcastically, forgetting for a moment that she’s my mother and that society expects me to be respectful of my mother. ‘Sorry for not being used to the threat of total, imminent destruction of mankind.’ She drinks her tea and says nothing. ‘It’s just scary, that’s all’ I add in a soft, vulnerable tone. ‘Nothing will happen’ she smiles ‘and if it does, well, then we’ll be with God wont we?’ and then she finishes her tea and sits quietly, thinking about her God and about how blissful it would be to be evaporated by an atom ripping apart above her head so she can go hang out with her God in a field full of daisies. ‘Ok’ is all I say, because there really is nothing more to say to that, is there?

Boxes

She threw the boxes,
In your flat,
And just left them there.

All those boxes,
All that baggage,
But she didn’t care.

Because she’s moving on.

Old mementos,
Faded photos,
They’ve sat there for years.

But she’s forgotten,
All about them,
Like she’s forgotten her tears.

Because she’s moving on.

You keep,
A single cobweb,
In the corner of the room.

To remind you,
Of the healing,
That you’ve had to do.

Because she’s moving on.