Ceinwen previously worked a Probation Officer, a Mental Health Social Worker and a Practice Educator in the NHS. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published on web magazines and in print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Stepaway,Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Obsessed with Pipework, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls and Riggwelter. She has recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She believes everyone’s voice counts and intends to work with hard to reach groups after graduation. She intends to grow old disgracefully.
I brush the russet leaves to one side
as the sun follows its lone path,
a lowering arc, to set in the west
of the wood-smoked afternoon sky.
Burnt-off heather moorland and garden bonfires
cremate my last hopes of your return.
Winter nights draw in and I nestle
caped in cold shadows beneath the tangled oak.
Old flames die and leave an ashy trace
iced onto my tear stained face,
my knotted hair, my shaky limbs.
My grief stinks and will not hibernate.
Gravely, I brush the dank leaves to one side
and kneel to claw a hole in the sodden soil.
A Sea of Sober Days to Drown In
The open-wide cave gapes,
swigs sweeping waves
that froth and roil.
My own bilious stomach
scolds for last night’s waste.
Booze, screen time,
browsing, nightcaps –
I should have gone outside
to stare at stars or surf the ocean
with my tired eyes.
Roused at dawn
by the screeching cries
of careless kittiwakes,
my head split apart
and I traipsed to the beach
to gulp fresh air.
the April sunshine stutters
and lisps jaundiced light
across the grey churning sea
as breakers pound my head.
I hear the dire warnings
spat out from the depth of the cave
and face the need for change:
a sea of sober days to drown in.
After Playing with Fire
our house remained stripped bare
of the warm comforts of home.
Chilly gusts swirled
in each fresh-painted room,
decorated with needlepoint precision.
No expense was spared and I paid.
A smoke haze lingered after the fire.
I smelt of ash and soot inked my pores.
I scrubbed my grubby skin sore,
to no avail. My sins remained writ large,
she craved, she erred, she strayed.
and redressed by Lenten fasts,
all to no avail, I give up
and deep in Kielder Forest,
as the clear May night chills me,
I lie down to say goodbye,
to freeze and die.
At daybreak, I am woken by starlings,
plagued by pins-and-needles,
surprised to feel and yawn,
to stretch and ache.
And there you stand so gentle,
and in your hand a flask of steaming tea,
‘Get up, my love,’ you say.
‘And drink with me, for grass-frost does not kill.
My glass of wine slops.
The tremor in my hand
isn’t visible in the dark
as jumpy nerves spark
down the length of my arm.
All this, from seeing a man.
A man who isn’t you,
who doesn’t really look like you
except for the curve of his cheek
and that springs me right back
to our last night, long ago,
when we argued.
I mop my skirt, embarrassed
by my hot, wet eyes and red cheeks.
Declarations, false as it happens,
that here is an old woman, drunk.
Later, I may be pissed, but not yet,
no not yet.
The stranger leaves the pub.
I push my glass across the bar
towards the landlady,
‘A large Chardonnay,’ I say.
‘Are you sure?’ she grins.
‘I think you’ve had enough already.’
I cringe and scuttle out.
Hurt by guilt and shame,
when wrongly accused,
for once, of my habitual sin.
I Try Not to Notice
As he stares at the VDU
or a cat chasing sparrows
he squints and wrinkles up his nose,
to keep his glasses in place.
He strokes his long, dark eyelashes
with the length of his index finger
to soothe amorphous anxieties.
Clusters of fear he can’t quite smother.
He taps the keyboard in staccato beats,
the drum of another rant on Facebook,
then stuffs cold toast and marmalade
into his cross mouth. Spent,
he wipes buttery fingers
on the knees of his clean jeans.
This man needs love
yet his shoulders droop
when I ask him to play Scrabble.
He doesn’t know connecting words
He talks in fearful, bullish tones,
determined to override interruptions,
evidence of disrespect.
His script, with me, well learnt
is always ‘Just a minute,’
whatever I ask/show/say.
He will not take my gift of words
in our shared moments
and honour me or them
with time or attention.
Maybe later, when he is ready.
and I have left the room
As I turn away, he hurts like hell,
grins baby-words in a parody of sweetness.