A few folk have asked me to say which of my own pieces of writing I liked best in 2013. This is it. Written about my memories of visiting my paternal grandmother’s house, Signals was first published in the Puffin Review.

Smoke signalsSignals

She had taken to her bed
As they did in those days
And there she lingered
Lace curtains
Kensitas and Camay
A dark wood dresser
Hairbrush and cold mirror –
These were her attendants

A cottage flat
But outside no rolling fields
Stiff stair rods
Creaking boards
The smell of lavender
Tarnished tap dripping
Chime of the mantle clock
Marking the remaining hours

She was thin of bone and spirit
Sharp in features, speech
Her camberwick lay in folds, like waves
A burning cigarette in a
Stainless steel ashtray
Sending up signals
But she waited in vain
For rescue or redemption

Grandfather sat in the next room
With a rack of pipes and Cutty Sark
His slippers on the hard lip
Of the tiled fireplace
White beard and rucked face
Brimming with sighs
He winked now and then
Honouring happier times

They say it was the illness –
Her mask-like face and tremor,
Yet under leaden brows
Black eyes remembered
Her shaking hands smoothed
Ripples on the bedspread
But the persevering past
Would not be stilled

© DJ Mac 2013

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