Friday, 8 July 2016

Dog (a Grandmama story)

a Grandmama story - 

(It's been some time since I shared a 'grandmama story' here - I am still very slowly working on editing what may become a book..... still a lot to do. So today I am sharing here a small except and I hope you enjoy reading.)


Jupp looks out of the window and sees a woman walking with a tall boxer-type dog. 'That dog looks like hard work!' Jupp says. He chews again at his cold toast. The children are sprawled in the living room having a late breakfast. It is a dull Saturday morning and Daddy is in the garage practicing his clarinet. Now and then a snort of anguish filters into the house, but the children have grown used to the sound and if asked they would say they quite like it.

'What dog?' Gretel says, standing up from the carpet, looking out. Toast crumbs fall from her thin blue nightie. 'What dog, you are making up stories Mr Jupp, you are!'

'There was a dog,' Jupp says, 'Look, there's the lady and the dog, the dog taking the lady for a walk.' Jupp tears at his toast and talks with his mouth full. 'If I had a dog I would shrink it and keep it in my pocket. No funny business from that dog!'

'A dog in a pocket. A Chiw-wa-wa kind of dog,' Gretel says and ponders this. She turns to Grandmama to ask: 'Where do you find them, these days?'

'Dogs on toast, dogs on toast, lovely lovely lovely dogs on toast!' Jupp sings loudly and swigs his orange juice glass as if it might be beer.

'Find a dog dear?' Grandmama says, stirring marmalade into her tea. 'A dog of any size is a luxury.' Grandmama takes a sip of her tea and considers things for a while. The children expect her to say something more but the moment has gone by, Grandmama puts her tea cup into her flooded saucer.

'I tell you what is luxury,' Gretel says, 'cake for breakfast is a luxury. You don't see that round here.'

'No one goes hungry,' Jupp says. 'Except those who don't eat their crusts.' He helps himself to the crusts on Gretel's plate.

She does not mind this. 'Help yourself, you beastly child,' Gretel says.

'Today is my birthday?" Lucas, the youngest boy asks. He has been asking this for several weeks. His siblings no longer respond. They have joked, threatened and thrown things at their little brother but still he asks.

'No dear, today is not your birthday,' Grandmama says. 'We have a while to wait.'

'I wonder where the lady and the dog live. I don't think I've seen them before,' Jupp says, staring out of the window again. 'Maybe I'll get my shoes on and take a look round the corner. Not that I want to meet them. I just might like to see how big the dog looks - when it's indoors.'

'It's as big as your head,' Gretel says. She thinks about this for a while and smiles.

Jupp goes into the hallway to find his shoes. He will walk round the corner and take a look. So what if he is in his pyjamas. So what. There are worse things than walking outside in your night stuff. So long as he wears his shoes and a scarf. He will walk round the corner and no one will care, no one will mind or notice. Invisible Jupp with his invisible-making scarf, that's him. He will walk round the corner and find the house with the lady and the dog. The lady will be sitting in a chair and the dog will be sitting in a chair opposite her. He already knows this. He knows what will be discovered, he can see into the very near future, he has always been gifted.

Then it is that Hugo steps into the hallway. Jupp grabs his scarf and one of Grandmama's scarves at the same time, throws them both around his neck. He won't look at Hugo. He is not interested in his older brother following him today.

'What's going on?' Hugo asks, leans against the front door.

'That's not a problem' Jupp says, 'my boots are by the back door anyway.'

Hugo shrugs. 'They're not your boots. We share boots, remember?'

Hugo is taller but Jupp has always felt stronger. Jupp considers Hugo to be a little too much like a thoughtful person for thoughtful people. He could be a sister. He could be Grandmama's favourite. Hugo follows Jupp into the kitchen. Jupp moves a sack of potatoes and finds a pair of grubby red boots. They have the same size feet, at the moment, because Jupp is big-boned for his age. Jupp puts the boots on his bare feet.

'You'll get blisters,' Hugo says.

'I've never had blisters in a million years,' Jupp says, shoving the boots on. 'I might just like them. Just the boots for dog hunting. Just the boots.'

Hugo sighs, such a weary, worldly sigh. Jupp goes out.

**

(Copyright Cathy Cullis 2016)

Sunday, 19 June 2016

one of everything



One of everything: bird type, stone type, cloud type.
Weeds cannot read your polite refusals. A kindly
dry humour takes over herb robert. The view from indoors
 is like looking through a sieve of time. A few evenings back,
I discovered a new roof top, There was a rainbow so faint
it hardly mattered except to the birds who rushed through
hearing a gossip, seeing each other as x-ray patterns.
I have finished naming the lowly trees for next winter's paintings.
I am almost wistful. Tiny grapes are becoming more than millimetres.
Yellow flowers are now bronze seed-heads. So quickly, you say,
drifting into sleepwalk. Blake's angels had vague arms, I remind myself,
the poems they carried were lethargic yet turbulent. The poems swam across the Atlantic
and become America. I think about that place, the dust of Arizona
and how it liked me in a strange way, the only way things can.
This morning I washed the green from windows,
pinned a curtain across a shameful cloud.
Some days I think about digging but mostly I don't;
there's flint and lethargy, there's a root that runs from my garden
to your garden like a ruddy drain. Where are they now?
Why do some flowers become plastic? Why do the ugly ones flower the most?
I am tackling Sunday as an object, an artefact on loan
from some obscure museum. We all wear white. There is a hush in the neighbourhood.
It is not the done thing to mow the lawn before or after rain;
things are growing without problem. That is a problem
if you let it be. I haven't looked inside the shed in years, it's been years.
I think it's held together with brambles and webs
like a fussy pencil drawing: watermarked, sincere.
No one talks in handwriting, not these days. It's all a matter of illumination,
a slow process, like watching daisies trample themselves.
There's a glory in mostly small things.



Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The day after I took a photograph of the dead hare

The day after I took a photograph of the dead hare,
I looked the front way to see a grey thing bouncing along the path,
comically, like something my mind had scribbled in, a dubbed animation,
but I hurried to the door and looked out to see the tail-end of a rabbit
and striding barefoot, not minding rocks, I tore off my cardigan
and threw it randomly so that it almost covered the creature,
a shabby trap, but enough to gain a moment - for I was sure
this was not a wild animal but an escaped pet, the rabbit now slithering
away, or trying to crawl from beneath the new dark.
I was relieved when the couple with a fish net and a pair of gloves
came sauntering down the road, presumed they must be looking for a rabbit
and after I retrieved my cardigan I left them to it.

Yesterday I was startled by the blue of the hare's fur and how
long slips of grass had stuck, a long fresh strand, the hare curled
and with one leg bone visible like a stick of seaside rock.
The hare was at once beauty and wretch, a distant wild thing
just there by my feet, rain-sodden, eyes sunk, it didn't make it
back into a field to die but had this hapless end, struck,
tossed on a footpath. And I took the photograph.
Myself several centuries ago might have taken the whole animal,
wrapped it in leaves or rags, made something of it.
But I just put my shopping bags down
and in a moment had the image for as long as I wanted.