Reading Time: 5 minutes
"Some years ago,whilst driving to Cahors, my wife and I encountered the site of a dreadful accident where the emergency services had only just arrived. I was haunted throughout the remains of the day by that tragedy; thinking often about those who were left waiting at home, and how such an event alters so many lives for ever. This poem was my attempt to create a written version of what my imagination was creating in my mind." - Allen Ansell
Today is the day. So it is written:
Today the breeze and the sunlight
will frivolously play;
Teasing lonely leaves on trees -
making them appear
just like butterflies,
trapped by their legs;
veined wings flickering sunlit greens,
fluttering desperately to be released;
They sense it is the time.
This day will start as normal:
The morning mist will tumble -
up the valley,
camouflaged by the darkness,
preparing itself for its dawn roll... to be seen.
The owls will cease their calling, and turn their minds instead
Amid the rustling trees their gentle breath is lost.
And as the day is woken,
as the black is broken,
and the shades of grey bring up the lights to show the misty scene,
across the way,
behind stone walls,
technology blinks and shrieks a morning call.
It is started.
There will be the usual waking…
in subdued, unwelcome light…
Feet will touch chilly tiles upon the floor.
Night, will be... no more.
He will slouch unwillingly towards the bathroom door;
Water, hot, into a bowl will pour,
and squinting, fiercely, he will see,
in the steamed up mirror,
his aging face, bleary eyed and bloated. More.
He will shave hairs from his chin, and will feel the final frisson
of last night’s passion, of last night’s ration of her.
The memory will make him smile –
maybe inside, or maybe out, that is unwritten.
The clock moves on.
She will slip silk over her scanty nightgown,
and start her woman’s day.
He will come into the kitchen and drink her coffee and eat her toast.
She will look at him across the table,
and will not see the fresh, tell-tale, facial lines.
Nor see or touch the small patch of un-shaved stubble
just to the side of his neck, beneath his chin,
where his life pulse pips -
up and down -
like a ticking clock.
She will watch him read his notes and plan his route,
and the kids will shout, and the kids will hoot - around him -
As they do.
But amid the usual cacophony that is the day’s overture,
she will smile at him. He will not see the smile.
She will know that, even before the creases ripple upwards
from the edge of her lips, and her eyes sparkle with the memory
of what was passed between them in the night.
Now, time is passing.
He will kiss the kids, one by one.
Small pecks upon pink cheeks
as in ancient order they file past -
leaving to catch their morning bus to school.
Then he will turn to her and say goodbye.
On this day,
his kiss for her will be more ardent;
will be more longer lasting.
She will think she knows the reason why, but she will not.
A woman’s work is never done.
He will climb into his white company car -
with the red company logo on the door -
She will call for him to remember, when in Cahors…
Her pink list. Written neatly it will implore
that he bring home the bread,
the cheese, the wine, his laughter, and his love.
He will tuck the note that ended “Je t’adore”
into his open pocket.
She will stand looking after him until his car blends with the
lightening mist, and becomes totally indistinguishable.
Her thoughts will pass from stitch to stitch, tucking in, straightening
white sheets on the marital bed -
where sweet things were said,
where passionate moments sped,
white seeds bled.
As the moment decreed approaches,
racing past some foreign coaches,
he will not see
that his time draws near.
The kids will swing upon low branches,
and she will go about her day,
While on the hard and grey stone chips
a white car slips,
from here to there
There will of course be the dreadful sound -
the metallic clack and thud,
the awful screech of tyres and brakes,
ticking, slowing, spinning wheels,
and a hiss.
Drip… drip… time is dripping away.
The breeze will play its last and cruel trick,
blowing the small pink note into the grassy field beside the road.
And the sunlight?
It will glisten on the blood red spill.
But there will be silence. Still,
at least the medic will see and feel,
the small patch of stubble on his neck,
and it will be still and cool beneath his finger tip.
Whilst down the medic's cheek
a tear will slip -
and be quickly wiped away.
For this was the day.
© Allen Ansell 2023