Fragments from a Cottage by the Sea

by Annette Snyckers


Suspended from the roof beams
in the children’s bedroom,
hangs a fairy made of felt and feathers,
a remnant of halcyon holidays long past.
With the house closed up,
the fairy flies through dark days,
her bell’s a little rusted.
Every time I come, I dust her off.
She scares the little ones now.
Neither do they like
the sea horse on the curtains.


There in the basin
I bathed you both
as new-born babies.
I remember how
your tiny, big-bellied bodies
bobbed in the familiar warmth,
how your mute eyes spoke
midnight blue messages,
holding tight to my gaze.


In a cupboard in the cellar,
invaded by more than mould,
is a box of fishing tackle all a-jumble,
twisted hooks and sinkers, trapped memories
of night-fishing expeditions
by the young boys of this house.
Late the lamp returned over the dune,
brought into the kitchen
where, by its steady light,
they slaughtered and consumed
the freshly baked bread .


Digging in a drawer
for thumb tacks and the scissors,
I find puzzle pieces, shells,
self-made cards for Christmas,
drawings of bunnies with long ears,
a witch upon her broom.
On the first morning of the new millennium,
you both climbed into bed with me.
Outside the sea lay silver
so we pretended it was a ship –

all of us so unprepared
for the rough passage ahead.


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