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Gareth Culshaw

The Pendulum Tick Tocked

In the hallway, a pendulum swung itself. 

A slight tick-tock fell from it. It speared 

the silence when we sat in the living room

as the time slipped between us.


Your eyelids closed then sprung back up

like someone quickly opening a garage door. 

I sat watching the hands pass each other on

the face of a clock. You were retired now.


Your herring fish silver hair and tanned forearms

rested. A tub of dog-oil waited to clean your knee

joints from the sea air and drains. The room expanded

itself as we shuffled thoughts. Sometimes the words 


we should have said came back at us in winter winds. 

An Evening Back Then

Huntroyde was where our voices hung.

Each week we would strut and grow,

bones groaned under the skin like trees under snow. 


We knew people’s gardens better

than them, picked up a lost football, 

or hiding behind the hedge at night. 

Our whistles got lost in the sky. 


The tap of adult shoes on Friday nights, 

cigarette smoke hung above their perfume

as they walked past, not giving us

a second thought after the manumit. 


We walked under streetlights, created more

shadows of ourselves before letting them

deracinate into the sky.  The local garage

lit up the earth more than anything we knew. 


And we sat chewed gum like sheep eating grass.

Swigged pop as if we needed it to survive

said ‘Dibs on that’ as we guttled chocolate bars.

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