Short Cut – by Lynda Turbet

 

Me. Ankle socks and clean red shorts
head full of Famous Five
new borrowings in hand,
take the short cut home.

Thistles, willow-herb and giant dock
edge the track, their coarse smell heavy in the air.
Rank elder bushes black with fruit,
bend to block the way; brambles
snag insistent at my sleeves.

Then they appear; grinning like weasels:
rough boys, I know I must avoid,
all grime and crooked teeth.
One bars the way, the other at my back
thrashes at nettles with a stick.

‘Do you fuck?’ he says. ‘Do you?’
Their sniggers hem me in.
I’ve never heard the word
yet sense it’s something bad.
I run, their jeering yelps and howls
chase me like dogs across the field.

I shouldn’t have been there,
am too afraid to tell. He didn’t touch me,
though in my mind a splinter lodged:
his twisted snake-belt, glinting in the sun.

 

 

 

After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.

Vole Clock – by Lynda Turbet

 

Archaeologists can date a site by examining the jaw bones of voles and the marks on their teeth enamel.

 

In layered earth
grooved teeth, chipped bone
measure silent years
tell uncountable time.
The cautious trowel
scrapes, probes
discloses buried fragments
to expert scrutiny.

This mark – a hundred thousand years.

A scurry of ghost voles through the grass –
one, caught by hawk or owl
or dead from cold
leaves its frail footprint on the world
numbers our selfish time
no more than breath
and death an exhalation
a second’s tick in vastness
too huge to comprehend.

 

 

 

After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.

Jam Tomorrow – by Lynda Turbet

 

I think of promises unkept –
once, a morning spent
stripping an espaliered apricot tree
limbs pinioned against old red brick.
August sun burned us both
as wasps in constant sleepy hum
gorged on fallen fruit
luscious pebbles in uncut grass.

Beyond the garden
cows moaned in nearby meadows
and the dale dipped to road and river
rising again to fields and drystone walls
Pen Hill sketched across a cloudless sky.
Steadily I filled the bowls
carried them to shade
ready for jam.

Split, each fruit revealed
a cluster of white grubs
squirming, fat and foul
sated on juicy flesh.
The compost heap devoured the lot.

I don’t regret the jam – rather
a loss of something purposeful and shared
bridging generations, unaware
this visit was my last
that fruit would hang ignored
and empty jars sit gathering dust and flies.

 

 

After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.

Displaced – by Lynda Turbet

 

Words swim from hidden places

dimple the surface unexpectedly
each tail flick flash a landscape –
a limestone scarp
a tumbling froth of spray:
a sea fret’s clammy fingers curled up staithes.
Rain teems or there’s a mizzle
beck, tarn, spout, foss or force
a lexicon of drenching.

Go north, for lochs and burns to dook or guddle in,
peat bogs ooze and suck each step
in black and copper pools.
You’re drookit and the smirr
stipples the windscreen.
It’s fairly dinnin’ doon,’ the wifies say.
The haar rolls in, as August turns to March,
insidious wetness clinging to your hair.

Here, by shingle shore and sandy heath,
Dry, I am lost for words.

 

 

After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.