Saturday, 11 January 2014


Oh keep the dog of days far hence, we prayed then bitterly to the God of smashed up things. Alice had her wand and her luminous wings fashioned from chicken feathers and bones washed white. We hid in all the improbable places of childhood: spiral stone staircases that ended abruptly in stone walls; underneath the carparks and the canal bridges, in derelict lunatic asylums still creaking with their ghosts. And the days were ridged with magical and mundane treasures. We pushed open a door to see a sheep's spine turning on a string. In the midden behind the playground we unearthed a trove of soul secrets, unlit but still beating, giving off the must of smoked aubergine. Before long Alice would grow desperate. Tell me a secret, she would plead, something that nobody knows, and then another, and then another.
But in spite of our prayers time moved itself around its series of clocks, exerted its miraculous propensity to age us. We looked in mirrors just to catch a sight of our fascinatingly older selves. On the walk home, the night grew cold, and flapped around us like a freshly ripped coat. Wind wide enough to wrap a fairy in, Alice murmured, yawning, and then lay, still as a saint upon the flat wall outside the pub, listening to the warrior drunks singing their soft arias. Stretching her arms to measure the sky she asserted the randomly improving values of lemons and told me of her dreams. And we must have held each other then, as we are doing now.
And here we are, still praying to the Gods of all smashed things to mend us, spare us, and keep us. And still we pray: oh keep the dogs of day far hence.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele

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