The rain falls with blunt determination
but there’s a sun behind the flat white sky
whose intangible glow glosses
the wet pebble edging
and in-your-face green bushes
outside the rehabilitation ward.
Wetness blood-gouts the stiff red roses,
that are not allowed inside
in case they harbour infection.
You liked those when I wheeled you round
only yesterday, in a wind
too cold to let us stay out long.
Your music plays continually, turned up
or down. Celeste Aida glosses the minutes
in which you sleep uncomfortably
but with determination. Sepsis in your blood
gives the lie to ‘rehabilitation ward’:
No more needles you told us all.
In the greenwood
At the entrance to the forest
she took the fire-lighting test:
use one match, cook sausages.
And failed altogether. Plodded
hungrily under the trees hoping
the expected fun would materialise.
Was this a quest, an adventure?
Escape from the endless regulation
of the cultivated fields?
Or likely to end with a shallow grave
covered in leaves, attended by
singing birds and the young deer?
Somehow years passed. She found
berries were sustaining if monotonous,
learned to endure drizzle and winds.
Encountered other wandering types,
mostly fugitive misfits, the occasional
genius. Desultory chat. None stayed long.
Her choices were determined by where
the brambles were too thick, whether
over-hanging branches could snapped off.
She got used to forest gloom, short views,
how trunks threw complicated shadows,
nights of impenetrable darkness.
Then one day, the trees thinned, stopped.
She emerged from the forest edge, blinking.
Stood amazed, by distances, landscape.
The moment when the skipping rope
smacks down onto the ground
and you jump in cleanly just-like-that.
The moment when the ball hurtles
towards your connecting foot: blam!
a perfect volley for an unstoppable goal.
The moment when there is a sudden silence
and on the beat you make a witty remark
to a whole-room-laugh of approval.
That moment when I understand
no handhold will hold you long
and those bronze wings lift you
into the sky.
Celeste Aida And Other poems
About the contributor
Ruth Aylett lives in Edinburgh where she teaches and researches comouting and robotics. She was joint author with Beth McDonough of the pamphlet Handfast, published in 2016. One of four authors of the online epic Granite University, she performed with Sarah the Poetic Robot at the 2012 Edinburgh Free Fringe. She has been published by Prole, The North, Agenda, Antiphon, Interpreter’s House, The Lake, South Bank Poetry, Envoi, Bloodaxe Books, and others. See www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html for more.