‘can you say that a man is lost just because
you cannot distinguish him from the background.’
Cole Swensen, Chaim Soutine: The Errant Road, 1939
We go back quietly, in surprising sunshine.
The warmth opens us, as our child sweats
into the Scottish air, declaring the hill
too long; a mountain. He says the light
tastes different here. It nestles on our tongues.
Dark pillars of firs line the driveway
down to our old home. The once-green
cottage window-frames are grey,
making the house look shabbier
or more in keeping with the usual weather.
We visit the current tenants. Drink tea.
Make small talk. After, our son lopes ahead
back down to the memorial bear and fox,
rests his wrists on their cool marble;
a good way to recalibrate the body
he remembers from TV ages ago.
Inside the cathedral, the air channels
towards the altar. A rabbit, a camel, all manner
of creatures perch at the end of pews
in clean-cut wood the colour of hazelnuts.
On the graveyard wall, an emptied can
of Tennent’s Super is haloed by sunlight.
In the hotel, we play a racing game
brought down from the bookshelves.
He gallops his horses forwards, forwards.
Illustration James Burnett / digital negative and lumen print on old FB paper, one hour sun exposure
MAY 2019 Heidi Williamson MONK