'The Yard Misses You' by Karen Rollason

The morning sun is shining in the farmyard. It’s warm on my back as I
sit contemplating your absence. But despite its heat my insides are
cold and empty. My heart swings from its stays, a heavy pendulum
counting the days until your return. I must convince myself that day
will come, though the doctors have warned me to expect the worst.

I convince you too – when I sit by your hospital bed – your work-toiled
hand, motionless in mine. The doctors say you can hear, so I talk to
you incessantly even after I leave you in their care.

I've got my boots, the duster and polish. And if you were here you
would be telling me off for sitting in my stocking feet - my tiptoes
in the gravel. My cup of tea is going cold beside me. I can’t make it
like you. Too much milk I think – I don’t have that same sleight of
hand. You always told me off for that too. Far too much polish on
those boots – a terrible waste, you would say. But you always patted my
shoulder as you went back to your own chores. Your bite was that of a
pup – and I have been blessed for many a man has had to sleep with a
Rottweiler.

I can’t cook like you either – my shrinking waistline tells me that.
I've made a belt out of some twine I found in the barn. It chaffs my
waist, another sore reminder that you are absent. Mary from the
neighbouring farm has brought some broth – but I have no stomach for
it. Broth’s for sharing, with chunks of your soft, farmhouse loaf, the
butter churned by your own fair hand.

The wind is fresh this morning. It’s blowing the trees in the copse,
terrible it is – the leaves dancing to its tune. If you were here you
would've been hanging out the washing, pegging out the sheets between the two
broad oaks, and all the while singing your own tune, in that soft Irish
lilt of yours. You were happy in your work – never complaining all
these long years despite - its heavy load.

I like to remember your skirts bustling around the yard, seeing to the
chickens, seeing to the kids, seeing to the farm hands, and most of all
- seeing to me. I never made it easy – you used to scold. But I'm a
plodder lass – there’s never been hurry in my bones.

The yard is scurrying with activity this morning. The cat’s had her
kittens – six of them - and the geese are hissing proud. And Nip, well
he’s running wild lass. But despite all of it – the yard misses you.

That’s why I'm polishing my love. Smearing my boots in the thick black
paste – then bulling them until I can see my sad and crumpled face
reflected in their shine. The smell is strong – it’s the smell of
normality.

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