Repainting the Elvis Rock

Midnight, and the road is clear.

Black ice in the hollows and a rabbit

lying mangled in the headlights,

blood oozing black, fur no doubt still warm,

blank eyes raised to the heavens;

Orion the hunter watches

mindful of the meaning.

The Norton hums beneath me.


Barbed wire flickers as I pass,

outlined sheep in the sickle moonlight

huddle in corners, standing asleep;

rumps daubed gaudy red and blue

but grey in the night time. On my spine

the rucksack rattles, paint tin and brushes

echo the pot holes and the Thermos

bangs my vertebrae.


Full throttle on the A44,

every inch of its surface learnt by heart;

a lover’s body even after years

reveals new places, subtle changes

and the chance of redemption.

Beard frozen, icy breath and frost

in the last scarf my mother ever made,

threadbare now. I ride alone.


A van in the opposite direction,

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve arrived

at this, my destination. Scan the ground

for bits of the original; smashed remains

of thirty years’ devotion in the cold.

Fancy I see a chunk or two,

slip one in the pocket of my Belstaff

to leave on her gravestone.


Rough underfoot as I paint,

boots crackling solid grass and chippings;

E’ and ‘L’ done, then distant lights

draw closer. Crouch in the shadows,

knee giving me gyp, can hear her:

Should’ve worn your long johns.

Flash of booming bass and it’s gone,

and back to work.


Time does strange things

to your memory, sometimes.

I’m losing dates and faces now are blurred

as animals in fields passed at full speed,

can see the pots she’s washing, but her hands

and face are missing.

A kestrel breaks the silence;

I am old.


No wind, instead the cold

seeps into your bones,

stiffening joints; thick-gloved

fingers fumble with the Thermos,

steaming tea spilling on my leathers.

I rushed the last three letters: ‘V’, ‘I’, ‘S’

a little slapdash. Every year I say

I will not come again.


Kick the Norton into action,

home past sleeping houses, more roadkill;

moon low on the horizon lighting

wool tufts on the wire. In my head

I play her records as I look

for meteors: it is too late.

Engine warm but I am numb;

January 8th, his birthday.

First published in Out of the Ash (Aberystwyth, 2006). Reproduced with permission.

Copyright © 2006 Emma Lloyd. All rights reserved.

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