I miss the little shop at the top of the high street that sells hot apple and cinnamon tea
I miss the Blue Note Café, which does the best hot chocolate ever, with Maltesers and sprinkles and marshmallows and a flake
I miss the burgers in the place at the bottom where I ate breakfast with my research team
I miss the courtyard in the sun, feeling the heat on my back as I read beneath the ivy, and curling over my book in the rain
I miss Star Child’s smell and the bookshelf from which I’ve never bought anything
I miss the table at the back of the library, next to the witchcraft section, where I’ve sat and written pages upon pages in diaries
I miss the bookshop where I’ve bought all my tarot cards, and having conversations about education and intelligence with the people who work there
I miss the walk down Cinnamon Lane, through the fields, back down the roads without pavements
I miss the collies at the house on the corner who run to the gate when I sing
I miss the peaceful space where the three strands of the river meet, and the huge dragonflies which buzz around my head
I miss the little bridge and the ridge behind it where I slept for a while in the sun
I miss the clover field with its carpet of bees
I miss the secret altar at the back of the garden
I miss the abbey grounds and the pond with the big fish
I miss the walk back from Wells across fields in the rain
I miss my room with its soothing walls, lack of caffeine and beautiful view across the fields
I miss Glastonbury.
long blonde hair,
big blue eyes,
challenging and inquisitive as only four year olds can be.
wearing the clothes i gave her;
always her favourites,
even when my sisters in law disagreed.
a small girl,
a tall but still little child,
in shades of pink,
with a long pixie cap and a frilly skirt.
and my mother in law smiling
and clapping her hands
the first time she tried on her pirate costume.
me: “i wish i could dress like a pirate all the time.”
MIL: “you already do”
i miss the way she felt when she sat on my lap
i miss her beautiful big blue eyes
i miss the way she called me “aunty”
or sometimes “uncle”, depending on her mood
i miss how she looked wearing the clothes i gave her
and her smiling face when she unwrapped the presents i’d bought
i finally understood celebration, i thought,
when i saw the joy on her face at the things i’d done for her
not many, admittedly
not as many as her other aunt
i was her “bad aunt”, so we all joked
and i loved her as much as her “good aunt” did
maybe more, because she represented
something i never had
something perhaps i could never understand
but still i loved her
in her little knitted pixie boots which i bought her for christmas
and her special pink jumper which i bought for her birthday
still i loved her
more than i could ever
my friend took a picture
of me stuck in her window
smiling freely, laughing at the world
i looked at it and double-glanced
it didn’t look like me at all
suddenly i’d turned into a woman instead of a girl
and i couldn’t have pinpointed what had changed
i still had the same eyes, the same smile on my face
nothing had come or gone or been rearranged
but a fundamental difference
a chrysalis had been broken
and something new had happened to the world.
she has pictures in her hallway of other people’s children.
other people’s, but not her own.
well actually, i am there
it’s more just that i wish i wasn’t.
i wish i could erase myself from her walls
the way i’ve erased myself from so many people’s lives
slip through the crack between the door and its frame
and take myself far from her mind.
so i could be just a vague memory,
a long-forgotten ghost
lurking in the cobwebby backrooms of her past.
but i know i can’t.
and so i care.
because i don’t know how not to –
because i don’t know if i have any other choice.
i spend my whole life running from one of them –
can i make it two?
i don’t honestly think i have the strength
and so instead
i keep guard watchfully;
ensure her safety and her health
and secretly, deep inside my heart,
wait for the day when she will finally