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A halo on our seaside home

Themo H. Peel, is an American writer, poet, and graphic designer best known as the author and illustrator of the fantasy novel Black Star. He has authored and illustrated a number of children’s fantasy stories and poetry anthologies. He attended Yale University studying fine arts (graphic design) before completing an MA in meriting (poetry) at the University of Edinburgh. He currently lives and writes in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Haar on Leith
It starts as
silken sleeves rolling
over roof tops, cresting
concrete teeth softened
under hazy glow.
In gloom, luminescent
sheen of misty morning
unshaken by the sun,
it holds close, a dream.
My breath unfurls
a whirl of vaporous
splendour, Celtic tendrils
wend their way
into a glorious world.
Not grey – glittering
mists envelope us
painting tenements castles
in the clouds, a halo
on our seaside home.

Jigsaw on the Links
I watched a child
running with a jigsaw,
excitement gliding their toes
over grass tips like wings.
A gangly gait flinging them closer
to daddy’s arms, dazzling
as pieces fell behind
sowing lessons in disappointment.

Over the hill and through the waves
For my Edinburgh Blue Ball brothers
I lost my glasses in the choppy water
leaping through diamond spray – a selkie-shaped ballerino,
pirouetting and spinning as waves lifted me,
fingertips pointing skyward, just barely brushing the sun.

No one told me 40 would come with abandon
which makes men giggling mermaids,
sputtering salt and sand until judgement and woe
are surf broken on beds of communion.
The icy North Sea pushed it all out,
sorrow drifting further away, unbuoyed and sinking,
my body numb to weighty cares,
melancholy ripped free, unnoticed, into undertow.

I stayed there, stinging cool skin, smiling as waves
churned endless blue-green champions, like mad kelpies
dragging away the last thrashing burden,
never to be seen when blinded by the cold morning sea.

Sea bird
I learned to live without them;
a family at war.
I crossed seas on broken wing,
bones fortified with salt spray
and what they had not given me.

With claw and finger and sinew
I reached for everything,
my disparate viscera fighting the storm, 
until, slowly, my grasp turned inward.
There I embraced the long forgotten –
a little bird who would survive, stronger 
apart with himself, 
calling his halcyon song on the wind.

You wore lime green shoes.
And since then 
that coffee shop where we met
has been a kebab house,
a place that specialised in artisanal BBQ,
and now a pretty decent gin bar.

But it won’t be tomorrow.

Since then we’ve survived divorce, 
foreign citizenship, 
surrogates in America, bankruptcy,
and all our family dying
from ravage and disease.

But I still remember those lime green shoes
And the miracle they walked into my life. ■


Photograph: Scott Walker/Flickr

There I embraced the long forgotten –
a little bird who would survive, stronger 
apart with himself, 
calling his halcyon song on the wind.


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