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Monday, 4 June 2012

The Cricket Green Belle

We knew her thus, and by no other name,
the homeless one who'd put down roots
on one of our two greens and made
a shelter seem like home. An air-raid shelter,
brick built, wholly above ground, but windowless.
I went in once -
to black my nose as mum would say -
and see what I could see.
Pitch dark towards the rear -
no light switch to be found - and airless too.
Pools of stagnant water that I dimly saw -
and fantasised as blood. Dank smells -
and others that I did not recognise.
The Belle was not at home, of course,
she rarely was by day. Hot day.
Her trench coat, thick with mud -
and what? - hung on a nail.
An upturned bucket by a sack of straw.
And on the bucket, three (I think it was)
large perfume bottles, still half full.
(Half full of something! my father later said -
and straightway banned me from the place for good.)
My good, and for ever.

And then I saw them (hadn't quite expected that,
thought she would have had them on), quite near the door,
so catching what there was of light: the infamous,
high, leather boots the adults talked about. Russian!
some would say, Equestrian! said others. One black,
one brown - originally. Two left feet and tooled with two
quite different patterns. Painted a deep red,
the pair of them, the deep red wearing off,
the former colours showing through.
I'd heard all this when adults thought I was asleep.
I'd heard much more... so time to go.

Then as I turned, the Belle walked in.

First close encounter, her and I. I saw, though dimly,
for myself: the crimson lips; that rouge and grime -
like oil and water - didn't mix; odd open sandals
and no socks; the chain around her neck; the short
clay pipe that hung down from the corner of her mouth.

She didn't speak and nor did I.

She turned into the darkest corner of the four
and disappeared from view. I followed her example,
but disappeared into the light like the proverbial bat -
straight out of hell.
Back home, the disappointment bit:
I hadn't seen the famed pipe lit.
..................................................................................
This is #8 of my Suburban Village series.


9 comments:

Brian Miller said...

ooo shes a mysterious one eh? def would have been one my parents would have steared me from as well which would have made her all the more curious to me...ha

Daydreamertoo said...

Ooooo..this is so full of atmosphere, intrigue and such a great story. She is such a great character.
What a read Dave!
We used to play in my nan's old air raid shelter in her back garden and in other shelters in different places too.
They all stank of PEE and goodness knows what else....lol

Tabor said...

I never knew characters like this growing up, but they lived in my small town probably. She and you were not harmed by the visit. She had seen it all and you were seeing something new.

Kat Mortensen said...

A tour de force! I shall remember Belle and her boots, especially.

Can you please come and tell me what you think of the concoction I have most recently created? Is it a disaster as I fear?

Kat

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Marvellous, the disappearing act, again a great feat of a poem ( and memory ) culminating in the last stanza.
I enjoyed your "disappointment".

Windsmoke. said...

The third stanza does it for me such a vivid description of Belle, it was like i was actually there looking at her, well done again :-).

rch said...

Excellent story telling my friend, so vivd and detailed and your words have such a great natural cadence, I love reading your stuff.

Muhammad Israr said...

wow..this was a thriller...chilling... i was wondering what would happened if the belle saw you ..but i am glad the ending was a happy one :)

Dave King said...

Brian
It did have that effect, yes - especially as I'd heard a lot said that I'd not understood!

Daydreamer too
Yes, we had an Anderson in the garden. Later on we had a Morrison table shelter in the dining room because my health prevented me using an outdoor one.

Tabor
No, I'm pretty sure I was not harmed, either by her or the various stories circulating about her, some of which became fantasies. She was the classic attraction/repulsion figure.

Kat
Are you refering to The Ghost of Arcimboldo - as I think you must be? If so, I actually had left my comment before reading yours here. Great minds, I think, because I note that we both used the same phrase of the other: A tour de force. What are the chances of that happening? But there you are: I was well impressed. Why did you think it a disaster?

Tommaso
Ah, th disappointment... that because I'd heard such stories of the smoke screen that it would put up. Thanks for the comment.

Windsmoke
Good to hear that you liked that bit. Thanks.

rch
Thank a lot for this. Most gratifying.

Muhammad
Yup, all was well that ended well. Thanks.