I didn’t know that some planets have limbs,
the wind nibbling at Neptune’s Arm as we
trickled our way down to its fist like water
droplets about to freeze.
I didn’t know just how cold it would be,
determination keeping us going without
question, despite your ears turning from
rose pink to crimson as if burning, the gale
so cold it could have turned full circle, twirling
us around the clock tower on a whim, swirling
down this seaside street towards castle ruins.
We comment that it is hardly the cathedral
we have been planning to see, but the cathedral
is not even the cathedral I have been planning
to see, as I expected it to be round, as all
cathedrals in my mind are round.
I didn’t know which cathedral I had seen
that gave me this idea.
I didn’t know that our target, the ruins standing
three miles down the beach, would appear and
disappear from view, teasing us as we tease each
other. Today’s nonsense story is tomorrow’s
inside joke. Words meant just for us, a new
dictionary uttered and battered, pages torn
and swept up, read by the wind as we decide
how towns get their names, among other things.
I didn’t know any of this before we collaborated.
Letters leaning on each other, sentences stacked
precariously. One of us pulls out the other’s poorly
chosen word and the structure collapses hilariously
like Jenga, like us on each other. I didn’t know
years ago that I wouldn’t have to build alone.
I didn’t know years ago that we would be here,
that we would be adventuring, in our steps
and in our tales, in Canterbury gales.
CDs and radio
for five hour trips after clearing snow
slipping and sliding between frosted hillsides
sometimes the drives were better than the destination –
despite gifts, polite smiles, selection boxes, envelopes
with notes inside, polite obligations.
Before all that, and in the relief after all that
it was the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack
in the back of the car, stirring it up with Patti Labelle
the heat was on riding through the streets of Rochdale
Or it was Motown all the way – I’ve never been to Detroit
but we have driven to Detroit.
How sweet it was to hear Jr. Walker, The Supremes,
to be with Smokey Robinson, to learn who Papa was
with The Temptations, and learn who my papa was
through what we would listen to. The Isley Brothers,
the whole family, Gladys Knight well into the night
when I might try to read by the intermittent light
of passing lampposts before giving in and just listening.
Sometimes it felt like there were Four Seasons
between the north and the south, or Four Tops,
hilltops, Rockwell being watched while I watched
the white fields pass, the roar of traffic down the M62,
wheels spinning, working our way back home.
Sam Rose is a writer from England and the editor of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine. Her work has appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Haiku Journal, and others. She is a three times cancer survivor and will soon be embarking on her PhD, researching the role of poetry in psycho-oncology. Find her at her website https://www.writersam.co.uk and on Twitter @writersamr.