Following the River Exe on a Wednesday afternoon
My son fixates on sailboats.
We both dream of riding the currents
out to open sea, so we breathe
in midday shadows, meditating
on the shimmer of the aqua
air. I tap his temples, wisp lavender
under his nose; I hold his hand
until he finds his peace. We walk
along the pavement, heading east.
This is not like our river: tamed
by industry, churned with purpose.
This river remembers smugglers,
the density of salt.
The boy tilts his head,
squints and smiles, while the pale sun turns
blue waves to a shiver.
Meeting Tink in a bar in Heaven
When I sleep, she still exists.
Her face peach-bright
& more than just a pinch of skin;
my friend is a tattooed hologram who hugs
me tight & tells me she’s glad to see me
& how she’s sorry I can’t be a bridesmaid
as her wedding won’t be going ahead.
I won’t tell her when she left he changed his mind.
Most people do, when you go the way she did.
& she says she can’t wait for my wedding,
her corset is laced & her boots are shined.
She’s bringing her favourite lover, a leather-&-tartan
skirted sprite, curved in at the waist & out at the hip;
this one makes her feel more alive than ever.
I’ve been here all this time, she says, as music
blasts through black-light clouds – not a harp in sight –
& tells me how I’d love her new friends
because they are absolute angels.
Her friends bound her with corset laces,
moulding a shapeless chemise
up and out over post-adolescent
breasts, outside a tent pitched
among strangers between the Midwest
and the East Coast.
A pair of Celtic woven
sandals cut through her ankles,
burst blisters she brought
along from the twentieth century,
thanks to last week’s chunky
shoes, not yet softened. In
the chirurgeon’s tent they wiped
mud from her feet, examined them,
and handed over a traditional
Tudor cure – band aids –
and her instructions: stick cotton
and plastic between leather and skin,
a barrier to be discarded
in bins with ye olde tampons and tissues
after she wakes from nights on the mead,
after cold communal showers
in the dull creeping heat of August mornings.
Kate Garrett was born thirtysomething years ago in southwestern Ohio, but has lived her entire adult life in the UK. She writes poems and flash fiction, and edits other people’s poems and flash fiction. Her work appears here and there, from webzines to books – her flash fiction and poetry collection Bewitched and Other Stories was just released in August 2015 from Pankhearst, and her latest poetry pamphlet The Density of Salt is forthcoming from Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2016.