Woman and Alsatian
from a photograph by Keith Arnatt
She seems just about to move
one hand comforts the dog,
buried into the fur behind his ears,
but he doesn’t like my camera.
I saw them from across the street
and followed, attracted by
the slick pvc of her coat,
which gave her a beatnik look,
though practical too, I can see that.
Her dog lollops on oversized feet.
He will grow quickly,
they already work as a team.
What’s his name?
I position them by a blank wall.
Look at me. They are both unsure.
She wonders why I am interested in her –
ordinary, out for a walk, hair a mess.
She half smiles, tense. His name is Timber.
The dog barks.
The man on the train is on his phone,
telling someone that he needs help.
And I thought of you.
He has found a crow with a broken wing,
he knows how to bandage it,
but needs someone to hold the bird.
The person on the phone isn’t keen.
I can come down to you with the bird
in a box. I don’t mind the rain.
He says he bought mealy worms
to feed the bird.
I think of the injured crow.
It sits quietly in his kitchen,
scratches at its box.
During and after my mother’s death
I left plenty of space for grieving
or so I thought.
It seems to need so much
perhaps, after all, I will need a new life.
All this brokenness and sitting still.
The cherry has been pink since December.
It blooms from dry branches,
never lets go.
We finish our drinks and leave the café.
A company of pigeon bustle on the wall.
You make a sudden sideways grab
with your magician’s hands,
hold one, soft-grey, cradled.
We peer at its bead eyes, quick face.
You raise the bird, release it.
Rose Cook was born in Halifax and lives in Devon; she’s well known in the South West as a poet and performer. Rose has read in venues such as the Soho Theatre in London, Dartington’s Ways With Words Literature Festival and the Bristol Poetry Festival. Most recently, she appeared at a Forked event held at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth.
Her last book, Notes From a Bright Field, was published by Cultured Llama in 2013. Previous poetry books are Everyday Festival published by HappenStance Press (2009) and Taking Flight published by Oversteps Books (2009).
Rose’s blog can be found at https://rosecook.wordpress.com/