Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry

Day 204


My bag of worries
is still under my pillow
when I wake up
after a night
of solid sleep
but quicksand dreams.

It rattles with the
bones of unfinished
thoughts, and their
sharp edges worry
at the back of
my neck while
I lie in the light.

A bag of bones
plays a fast dirge
on my ribs and
my tibia, an
unsettling tune
of the uncertain,
and the wind
blows the curtains
into wrong shapes.

The acid melts my
skeleton and my
stomach, a man
full of holes and
unseemly regrets
in the cool of an
early morning promise.

No period of grace
under the storm of
countless cuts and
their steaming blood.
The room spirals in
synch with the black
bag of secrets.

I put it in my pocket
when I leave the house,
drop it on wasted ground
and don’t look back as I
walk on too quickly,
breath easy with relief,
heavy with guilt.

Sleep comes better now
and without dreams,
peace at last.
My bag of worries
is still under my pillow
when I wake up…



‘I thought we’d agreed that I’d imitate Martin on the phone to Valentine,’ Aggie says when Lilibet has gone. ‘That would have been easier. Then at least we’d have known where and when Valentine would strike.’

‘Oh, you must let me have my little game with him.’ Robert smiles and holds up the phone. ‘He doesn’t know we’re tracking him. He’ll think we are, but even if he rips himself to shreds, he won’t know that we actually are.’

‘Where did you put it?’ Aggie wraps her arms around herself, feeling suddenly vulnerable without Lilibet near her.

‘Why don’t you guess? It will be a nice way to whole away the time before your lady comes back.’

‘You’re impossible.’

‘I know, I know.’ Robert puts his hands up, as if to ward off Aggie’s words and spells. ‘But not as impossible as you two, and you’re nowhere the impossibility that Cassie is.’ He closes his eyes, hums a tune. ‘She always reminds me of The Sound Of Music.’

‘How do you solve a problem like Cassandra? How do you catch that girl and pin her down?’ Aggie sings.

Robert claps with delight. ‘Oh, bravo, bravo. And even the paraphrasing works. You are a clever young thing, aren’t you? With a damn fine voice, too, if I may say so.’

Aggie laughs, a rough contrast to the smoothness of her singing voice. ‘Flattery will get you nowhere, old man,’ she says. ‘It’s all these silly games that got you into trouble in the first place. And your mind being somewhere else most of the time.’

‘I can’t help loving music,’ he says. ‘It’s second nature to me.’

‘Like love.’

‘Yes, like love.’ He stretches out the words and sadness drips from them, sadness but not bitterness.

‘What is it like, love?’

‘Just like you’re feeling it now. Elation. Fear. The soaring upper register of the organ sending heavenly tunes out through the strongest roof of any church to race around the world and proclaim your joy. The unsettling minor chord from the lower register rumbling uncertainty into your stomach and making you feel ill and almost incontinent. Colours so bright they almost seem unreal. The self, untouchable by all but one. That sort of thing.’

Aggie stares at him, straight into his eyes which seem moister than ever, her eyes roaming over his rugged old face, drawn still, and slightly florid and gone to seed. ‘I worry about you. It seems like you can’t take much more of this.’

‘Oh.’ He waves her concern away. ‘A lot of life in the old dog yet. Just a bit lonely and worried.’ He doesn’t look away, though. ‘But it’s always been like that, and now it’s getting a bit wearing.’

‘I’ve had more memories,’ Aggie says. ‘While we were driving back. I started telling Lilibet a story, and … and it turned out to be real.’

‘Do elucidate.’

So she tells him about the village and the girl, about the man, about Petra, about love and hate, and almost death, about how she has no idea where the girl came from, nor where she went to, and round and round the circles she has woven in her mind.

‘We must be able to find out somehow what the village is, where it is.’

‘It was so ordinary, so non-descript. And it could have been yesterday or a century ago.’

‘Didn’t you see anything that could date it?’

She shakes her head.

Robert reaches across, and grips one of her hands, and puts his other hand on top of hers. ‘It will become apparent. You will have your answer.’

‘But when?’ Aggie says, enjoying the warmth of his fatherly touch.

‘When all this is over.’

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