Shuffling through the warm surf towards the lighthouse
thinking of Kenya and the giggling boys
jumping into 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
smacking my head on the wet boulder
hearing you shouting at me that I looked old
wiping the red trickle angrily away from my fat lip
helping myself up, the sand grinding in my teeth.
Whispering something softly to your sister’s man
in French of course in order to conceal the sting
walking into 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
Lydia, used 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.
Smelling 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
standing all 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
and gently dabbed my salty cuts, like everything and nothing.
Ash Cheyne – © May 2019