Perched on her chair, she rocked away days
with sunlight cajoling her hair
into thinking it was golden once more.
I saw her on Sundays, for that was the only
newspaper worth reading, she told me.
The craggy map of her life softened
when I lowered my bike and walked
the plastic-wrapped cylinder
to her lap. For my troubles: a humbug
and a story or two from a bowl that never ran dry.
In the desert of December, her porch an oasis
of iced lemonade and the aroma
of lavender soldiers; those straight-backed men
in manicured robes, guarding their flower pot forts.
In March, my route changed to appease some folk
whose breaking news wouldn’t wait
on memory’s thick ink or the idylls of thin paper boys.
A season’s tales covered my canvas,
rendered in the pastels of a halcyon youth
and shared over hours made of moments.
The grey shades of August set Magpies to nesting
and swooping invaders, of which there were many.
The first was the oldest and came in the night
to steal her stories for himself. The second, a gardener
to tame the bruised ranks before the new dawn
arrived. The last, a daughter to remove the news,
still shrouded in plastic,
for her mother never had learned to read.
by Ryan Stone
First published on The Houseboat in August, 2015