Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry

Day 210

drought

summer-grey grass.

the world is sand,
and when the last sand falls
the world ends.

find some solid ground
for roots
to implant new life.

the rain hangs over
the sand and
never comes.

deserts wander and
expand north, south,
east and west.

the bottleneck.
the time-piece.
measured time finite.

the sun a skull,
the earth a flattened
skeleton, one arm

flung out
just short of the
barren water hole.

we need another miracle
as the dust blows up
from

summer-grey grass.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 163

Lilibet starts to move out of the shadows towards the approaching girl. Aggie holds her back. ‘Let me do this,’ she says. ‘She’ll run if she sees you. Or worse.’

Lilibet nods. ‘OK.’

Aggie steps out in front of Marit just as she’s about to pass.

‘You,’ Marit spits.

‘Nice to see you, too.’ Aggie smiles.

‘Get away from me.’

‘You do understand you’re putting yourself at risk, don’t you?’ Aggie says.

‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ Marit starts walking again.

Aggie doesn’t try to stop her, just walks alongside her.

‘Leave me alone.’

‘Katharina told us you’d run away.’

‘Can’t I do what I want to?’ Marit’s eyes blaze.

‘And where does that get anyone?’

‘You can’t stop me.’

‘Who says I’m going to?’

‘Isn’t that why you’re here?’

‘I’m here to try to understand why you’re running away, and where you’re running to.’

‘It’s none of your business,’ Marit says.

‘Perhaps not.’

‘Is that all you’re going to say?’

‘What happened to the girl who was so sure of herself and her part in all this?’ Aggie says.

‘She died when your little Scottish friend killed my boyfriend.’

‘He was a plant. You know as much.’

‘He’d changed his mind.’

‘That’s not the point,’ Aggie says.

‘Then what is the point?’ Marit stops, digs her index finger into Aggie’s chest.

‘The point is that Valentine and Martin, both of them, are responsible, not someone who didn’t have a kind of their own at the time.’

‘And that excuses murder?’

‘Who is guilty? The weapon or the person who pulled the trigger?’

‘She pulled the trigger.’ Marit frowns.

‘See, even you don’t believe that anymore. Valentine pulled the trigger. From somewhere far away. ANd Martin knew, even when he encouraged you to spend time with the boy.’

‘The dead boy.’

‘I can’t change that,’ Aggie says. ‘And I’m sorry.’

‘But are you? It’s all just a game to you.’

‘A game I’d rather not be playing.’

‘That’s a lie,’ Marit says.

‘What makes you say that?’

‘Look at you. Leaping up buildings, running faster than anyone else can, throwing yourself in front of flying bullets, digging your fingers into people’s stomachs to try to save them. You love it. Your face tells the story. You know you were made to fight.’

‘I … I … It’s not conscious then. Everything I do is instinct.’ Aggie’s at a loss. Pictures crowd into her, of those past things, those memories she’s not even sure are real, that guard on the ground unconscious, the bullet through Ann’s shoulder, an inch to either side and she’d have killed her.

‘If I didn’t know better, if I hadn’t seen you bleed, if I hadn’t seen your pain, I’d think you weren’t human.’ Marit trembles. ‘You make me so angry. Why did you have to come and disturb us in our peaceful house in Norwich. Why couldn’t you just have let this all be.’

‘Your mother, she told me, she wanted me to find you. She’s frightened for you. She doesn’t want Valentine to get you, use you as a hostage. Us you to get at Robert.’

‘Then why doesn’t she come and look after me herself? Why doesn’t Robert act like a father instead of some old duffer in a spy movie? Why’s he not in touch with reality? Plinky-plonking away on that damn piano of his. As if that were the real world.’

‘It’s his real world,’ Aggie says, and her heart bleeds for all the sadness she sees in Marit and Robert. ‘He loves you.’

Marit’s eyes fill with tears, and she doubles over, almost falling. Aggie takes her into her arms, a huge bear hug. ‘We’ll look after you all,’ she says. ‘I promise.’

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