through the warm surf towards the lighthouse
Kenya and the giggling boys
the sandy brown estuary
to cover their innocence from the sudden white man.
Trying not to
remember the look on your face as I slipped that day
head on the wet boulder
hearing you shouting
at me that I looked old
red trickle angrily away from my fat lip
helping myself up, the sand grinding in my teeth.
something softly to your sister’s man
in French of
course in order to conceal the sting
to La Mer and thinking how much I hated you then
not in any
foreign language but in spite of everything
you thought I didn’t understand.
Like how all
those years ago
to turn my bed down each night
in return for
very little and the hope maybe of a big tip at the end of it all
and how she
slept in a hut outside the grounds with the others
whilst we complained about the insects and the lack of ice in the gin.
sweetly despite all that, she was a pretty girl with a kid
and no real
future without the likes of us who keep
coming to get away
day in the scorching sun
selling her wares for a fiver and a big bottle of beer.
Leaving me with
something like pity and a note to say thanks
I know not
for what except that I hardly knew her
but that she
would have held my head I’m sure
dabbed my salty cuts, like everything and nothing.
Ash Cheyne – © May 2019