All three lived together in
that stuffy stone and corrugated iron
Welsh cottage at the foot of
a scrappily-wooded hill,
born there, never left there, died there
our two aunts and an uncle.
All three had pronouncedly long red hair
thick and lustrous even in old age:
two sisters and a brother they were
Alice, Maub, and Alvert.
Kindness was the currency Alice worked in –
quite often in winter feeding garden birds to death,
Maub’s was tiredness –
willing herself exhausted while lying
on the ever-sagging sofa
soaking herself in a fantasy of fatigue and
projecting it onto the vital
and energetic. Once I danced back-flipping
into the room and instead of applause
she whispered – You look tired.
And Alvert once an actor on the professional stage
of some renown until in protest
at working the matinee he insisted
on autographing a child’s eyeball.
It was when the last one died, Maub,
we found out they weren’t
related to us at all, or
to each other –
that they were all born with
jet black hair and dyed it red all their lives
standing on the stained tarpaulin
every Monday morning
leaning all together
over the cast iron sink
in the scullery where they hung up
the pelts they used in winter
in which as their only entertainment
they watched mesmerized
the reflection of the moon
in a bucket of black ink.
Tim Goldstone lives deep in rural Wales, which is probably for the best. Material in print, online and anthologies including The New Welsh Review, Stand, Crannóg, Anti-Heroin Chic, Gloom Cupboard, Ellipsis, Ghost City Review, Cadaverous, Altered States, The Speculative Book; and forthcoming in The Cabinet of Heed, Déraciné, The Trove, Veil: Journal of Darker Musings. Prose sequence read on stage at The Hay Festival. Twitter: @muddygold.