The mortified, to-be-groomed, piling plates
of my trendy, executive-to-be flat mates,
the stereo that ravishes the flimsy fiber of my walls
every second of the day,
the periodic cleaning of the communal toilet,
the frugal, frozen meals,
the droning laundry that churns my brain with twisted sleeves,
the window-shopping that constantly reminds me of aesthetic needs,
the constricting shoes that are past their retirement age
have all decidedly urged me to go on a three-day retreat.
I arrived in Largs on a very gusty, snowy day.
A female taxi-driver kindly waved at me
I inquired whether I could walk to the Benedictine Monastery.
Viewing the piling snow, my slender frame,
she shook her head negatively.
I boarded the vehicle banishing all thoughts about the fare.
I was always on a budget but it was high time I loosened care.
Instead, I focused on the beauty of a snow-puffed affair.
The first thing that conversed with my languid eyes
was the crow which rescued St. Benedict from harm,
serenely perching upon the saint’s shoulder.
Warmly received with the Madonna smile,
I was preceded by the Sister up the stairs,
then having inadvertently tripped over her habit of grace,
I was instantly forgiven before I blinked a single, apologetic phrase.
I had learnt from a song that silence has a sound.
It was true indeed of that realm of the devout,
so with attuned ears I began to learn how to hearken
to the peace of the un-worded.
Dinner was served with guesthouse mates.
No students’ broils, no mounds of plates,
but my days were spent swirling with snowflakes.
In a pair of navy Wellington boots,
I crunched my way up and down the unsullied coast,
a single tiny blemish on unbroken snow,
except for a visible dog now and then,
being walked to execute its needs.
The Sisters must have marveled at my eccentric need
to be constantly outdoors
when life was freezing to its very core.
I was bent on braving an inner storm
when people sat snug in cozy homes.
I constantly think about his inward gaze
that sees beyond all feminine grace
and the flamboyant phrase,
but Winter seduces him with voluptuous peaks
and Alpine skiing has never been my expertise.
Instead, I yearn to nestle to April’s daffodils
in Grasmere’s dales.
He loves to hear the wind buffet his lateen sails,
to expose his nimble limbs to mischievous air elves,
when I prefer to float on the placid lake
that Wordsworth and De Quincey used to contemplate.
I moon away my swimming hours
flirting with fish who dare approach,
viewing some seaweed or a fleet of clouds,
rippling the sea with arms grown bronze.
The lane I’ve chosen in this mass of waters
is the darkest, deepest and quite aloof.
An occasional splash from an efficient diver
or a professional swimmer would beat my course.
With a soft stroke I caress the flowers
that ripples have weaved with straying foam.
No need to speed or brave the miles,
no race to win, no end in view.
But whose breath has now agitated the quiet,
ruffling the surface with rhythmic moves?
Attuned, each ear begins to marvel
at this consistent, persistent tune.
The surge that precedes a Leviathan towers
before my eyes that catch a glimpse
of a figure resurrected from Roman times,
a Triton or Spartan, a moving myth.
Two orbs that see through films of water
assess the nymph that within me dwells.
A commanding glance beckons me to follow
to race this legendary water-Sphinx.
With eyes mesmerized by a giant’s biceps,
my hands then whisk the sweet sea’s blue.
An unwinnable race it is but now,
I have a mate with an end in view.
Benignity resides in the gleam of his eye
that calmly views a slumbering mankind,
too loath to unfurl.
Anger has never diluted his avowals
against the falsification of historic files,
the forgery of dates,
and Truth’s demise.
He wonders what makes most people so blind
to every de-shrouding he has espoused.
Is it a complacent way of life?
An ancestral dread of the Inquisitor’s styles!
A shield against psychiatric art!
Or the plights of irretrievable Snow Whites!
Grant me that purple cloud
for a funeral shroud,
some Autumn rain
to anoint my name,
a pyre of rays
for immolation in space,
a harp of stars
to play my rites,
a chariot of doves
my celestial hearse,
a headstone of light
for my burial site,
a wreath of beams
Comeliness does not gather dust.
Its innateness surpasses must
and the intricacy of rust.
Ornate is the translucent facade
that glows with jovial smiles,
and the efficacy of a glance.
Melifluous is its lingual form,
resonating through spinal cords,
a euphony of throbs.
Redolent is its lingering scent,
regaling the mind in its absence,
a cerebral incense.
The story of my umbrella is not a romance.
It has nothing to do with recreation, leisure, or class.
Floral as it may look, it is a weapon that defends,
derails, defuses, debars and deters.
Though I’m nearing retirement, my feet still serve an end.
The sun is quite hot-tempered in this portion of the world,
so my umbrella is the armor that shields my arms and head,
but not my legs.
Though incongruous with my sartorial façade,
it has become an appendix,
a perennial blemish on elegance,
derailing the gentility of an academic.
For some it has defused many feuds
over the efficacy of learning.
If knowledge cannot purchase one a car,
then one can fare better as a clerk,
a plumber, a sailor, or attending a bar.
As for my gender, a housewife.
This colorful nebula encircling my head
has debarred and deterred the ones to wed
who seek in a nuptial life more than a bed,
a financial credit.
Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with
a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have
appeared in multiple venues.