She is singing as she works,
crouched close over the curly-kale seedlings.
He smiles — it’s not ‘Rainy Day Blues’, his latest earworm,
That’s how they are.
On his side of the plot, nearer the roaring road,
He stoops to the spade, hoicks up
buttercup and ground elder,
chisels the boundary of the new bed
straight as the recycled railway sleepers he will use to edge it.
In the two bars’ rest between gobbets of traffic
A madrigal of goldfinches flashes past,
masked for a Venetian carnival.
She switches to Monteverdi.
Pale March sun casts starveling shadows
across the land.
She is remembering the night shifts,
long nights, this time of year,
when he would never get home in daylight.
Across town, his office would be lit by dancing screens,
eloquent curves of isobars, winds, rain patterns,
wave heights — if you knew how to read them.
She, writing crosslegged at her beloved desk,
saving the world one woman at a time
— or so she hoped —
weeding and pruning, tending each sentence
till it glowed with conviction, would have persuaded a stone.
After midnight, they would phone,
nothing much to say, hearing
each other’s music beyond the words, the darkened city
between them, apart together, keeping time.
Copyright © Mandy Macdonald 2016
Mandy Macdonald is an Australian writer and editor living in Aberdeen and trying to make sense of the 21st – and earlier – centuries. She returned to poetry after many years via the 52 project in 2014. You can find her in excellent company in such places as The Fat Damsel, Grey Hen Press, Triadae, and I am not a silent poet. When not writing, she sings.