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On the Bewdley Sweet Chestnut Invading You

Jake Reynolds


Swiftly into postboxes — coach windows — high-rise
             offices and art studios
             long and eerie, a dismal thrill
             a tendril in a ruptured drum
             an oil spill in brazen light
kaleidoscopic, your innermost thoughts
gifted in knowing a liar
from throat to boot
the memory of your grandmother
a flash of brilliant silver in her garden
with a level tray on which a jug of ginger beer
and tumblers in a pyramid made summer summer
             in the corner a tentacle waving at you
             to — I don’t know —
             ‘face the music’ — ‘meet your maker’ —
an idle man tossing a bag of seeds to obese birds
             your politics is a tree in autumn
             your love is blight, or unsent letters,
swiftly out of postboxes they lurch — vomit in reverse —
the tapping at the pane on the journey
passing the Severn
your father in an office block,
             computer wires            his fate.


There they are in the grey blazer
then you on your walk with them in the grey cold
when you made a joke and they said
             Dude I don’t think that’s a thing
             and you felt ‘yea big’
look at my lowest branch
grooved into the dirt
one of my cousins groomed the top of your head
they pointed up and said
you loosened the martenitsa from your wrist
your Bulgarian flatmate gave it to you last year
you looped it around a grinchy twig
you didn’t say a thing
you wonder if they’ll end up renting art studios
in one of the world’s tallest cities
             there’s nothing off about all this
             your face is a chink of streetlight
             through the curtain
             you blame it on your sleeplessness
             and the dust motes make a braille
             I just reach out and feel you feel


Round here the squirrels get vertigo
and fatly hop away with nausea
             think of coming home
             and the furniture rearranging
             at the speed of the clock,
             a scabby coffee cup lurching in contretemps
             in the centre of it all
everybody you have ever known has reached a rung on me
if you squint hard enough you see their names
like the game you played last Christmas
             the higher you climb the worse it gets
I know you are here for the sunlight
             drumming fingers, cluster headaches:
             things I shed in spring
             poor adornments
what a grim parade
every unborn thing has seen me
plugging the womb
with a voice, svelte, like this,
almost weeping when you are upended into the air —
isn’t the air a terrible thing
a bladed, ugly, smartarse thing —
I lower my mouth to a puddle or river
to get some of you back
             but really it is not in my nature
these things will not desert you until you are old
and in senility think —
washing away the grit of a careless family
at the kitchen sink —
that you have cracked it
you will never crack it
it is already lost to you

‘On the Bewdley Sweet Chestnut Invading You’ was published in 2016 as part of the UEA Undergraduate Creative Writing Anthology, Undertow.

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