Alice, Maub & Alvert by Tim Goldstone

(published 21st May 2018)

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.


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Tim Goldstone

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.