Frozen Moose

Lee Wright

 

The moose was lying there. I wiped its frozen eyes with my handkerchief and left it in the company of the moon.

Back in town, I went to the store, and purchased a cheap bottle. Buke Peters and his old lady watched as my numb fingers counted out the money.
‘You can’t continue this way, Ike.’ Buke was always giving me advice. ‘Do you want some aspirin with that?’ he asked.

It was either the brandy or the aspirin. I couldn’t afford both, and I wouldn’t need the aspirin until I had finished the brandy.

‘Just the bottle,’ I said.

That night I lay in bed and sipped the brandy. It was bad stuff. Judith fell asleep holding my arm, her mouth open. There were occasional popping noises as her tongue relaxed. I had been in bed for hours and still couldn’t get to sleep. My feet felt damp and the sheets needed changing. Snow had soaked through my boots while walking across the field to the moose and my feet were yet to warm up.

A shower seemed the best thing to do. It was 3am but that didn’t matter. Judith was out of it. I stood under the faucet and noticed mould on the ceiling. I was supposed to take care of things like that. I had a little notebook of jobs that needed doing around the house. I got out of the shower and dried off. The towel was still soggy from the shower I had taken that morning. In the kitchen I found the notebook and wrote Bathroom Ceiling.

I got that late-night hunger, so I looked in the icebox. There was half a tuna sandwich which Judith hadn’t taken to work, so I had that. By the time I had turned the lights out and got back into bed, my feet felt damp again.

By 8am, Judith was banging pots downstairs and I could smell bacon. I put on my robe and ran Judith’s brush through my hair. At the table, I asked for coffee. Judith opened the jar and handed it to me. We were out of coffee.

‘I’ll get the brandy,’ I said.

During morning service, I joined in with the hymns but switched off at the sermon. I was looking out the window, at the snow and the trees and the people. Judith nudged me, knowing that I hadn’t been paying attention. Father Dylan nodded to his wife and Francine moved towards the doors, ready with the collection plate. Judith pressed her foot down on mine and I checked my pockets for loose change. Instead of coins I found my handkerchief and was reminded of the moose.

At dinner we ate without talking. Judith read the paper and forked vegetables and beef into her mouth. I got up and left the table to urinate. When I came back, Judith sneezed three times in quick succession and I gave her my handkerchief. The moose’s handkerchief.

‘Too much pepper,’ she explained.

After dinner, Judith added sugar and stirred her tea. The brandy was finished.

‘Perhaps I’ll go for a walk,’ I said.

‘Please do, Ike. I can’t tolerate you when there’s nothing to drink in the house.’

In my hat and scarf, I was a man hidden under wool. I passed the church where evening service was just beginning. A different couple sitting in our place. Bunched together on the street corner were four boys and a girl, passing around a can of beer. One of them recognised me.

‘Hey Ike, you got a smoke?’

‘Sorry son. Hey, any of you kids ever seen a dead moose?’

They laughed.

‘Want to see one now?’ I asked.

‘No,’ said the girl.

‘What’s that you’re drinking there, milk?’

‘It’s beer, Ike.’

‘Any left?’ I asked.

They all laughed again. A few years from now, they’ll have bladders like torn sponges.

‘What the hell’s wrong with you kids anyway?’

I kept going. Fresh tire marks on the road made walking easier. My woollen hat became scratchy and I had an uneasy feeling. My hands were turning blue inside the gloves and I had to keep taking them out to blow on them. I lit a cigarette and hummed Willie Nelson’s Time of the Preacher. I looked through the window of a nice, clean house. It was warm to look at. A woman with a huge neck was sitting alone with her back to the window, reading something. There was an untouched cocktail on a table next to her. I imagined drinking it very slowly. Feeling it go down. I stood watching for a while. She didn’t know a damn thing about it.

.
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Biography

Lee Wright is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. He studied under Man Booker short-listed author Alison Moore and is currently taking an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. His short stories have been published by Headstuff and at fairlightbooks.co.uk 

His reviews and series of author interviews have been published by everybodysreviewing.blogspot.co.uk  

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New Black Country Poetry

 

By Charmaine Host

 

Perspex

 

If you are behind your Perspex
and I behind mine
how can we meet?

Does your mask of protection
mean I must not touch you?
Does mine mean I cannot be reached?

 

But I want to be burned
by the arc lamp of love
scorched and seared
with connection.

For this wounded heart needs
the white heat of healing
cauterisation to stop
the bleeding.

 

Brain Freeze

 

When I freeze like a computer screen
overloaded with data
there has been a signalling error
a system shutdown
a neural pathway derailment.

 

Earlier experience has been evoked.
A sergeant major issuing orders
commanding troops
bullying.

 

I think they call it ‘father transference’.
But there was nothing ‘fathering’ about those times
just yelling, telling, hitting, hating.

 

And I know you are not my father.
I know your desire is to heal, not harm.
But in those moments, minutes, hours of ‘brain freeze’
I forget, and cannot access your tenderness.
It is deleted
or rendered ‘junk mail’.

Good Friday

 

It was a good Friday
the day she realised that the ground
beneath her feet was solid
and that she was safe.

It was a good Friday
when love
was in the field
and shame no longer figural.

It was a good day
when she woke to find her heart was light
for she had found someone
who was her saving grace.

She could say more about Good Friday;
redemption, salvation,
sin and death defeated,
but she has no need
for she knows now about self-giving love
because of a self who gave
And in her understated way
she is so thankful.

 

 

Jericho

 

What if
she is good enough
to be:
wife, mother, friend, lover,
client, counsellor, prophet and priest?
Or even good enough to just be herself?
What if
she deserves:
laughter instead of tears, pleasure rather than shame?
Or even just deserves better?
What if
‘not being good enough’
has been the cornerstone of her life’s building,
the foundation upon which all her choices have been made?
What if
this stone is removed?
What will
the landscape look like when
these walls of Jericho come tumbling down?
What and how will she rebuild?

 

 

First Fire

 

A stone is rolled away
and like the first fire of Easter
she knows resurrection.
Then she remembers her name.
She remembers her name as it is spoken
by the one who loves her.
She remembers her name when she hears it
in the voice of the one she loves.
And in that hearing lie hope, healing, gift, grace and beauty.
In that hearing she remembers she is called by name

 

 

Charmaine Host

Born a long time ago in Walsall, Charmaine spends her time equally between being a Church of England Vicar and a student of Fine Art at Wolverhampton University.

She was one of the first group of women to be ordained priests in the Church of England – this new direction as an undergraduate art student has come much more recently.

Charmaine also has a professional counselling qualification and her writing and art have emerged as part of her own therapeutic process. She started writing poetry in 2012.