The mirror I hold up today is you.

The first time we met,
was in the heart of winter.
We said our first goodbye
at the edge of spring.
A whole season slipped by
when I went away.
And when I came back
the sun had warmed the northern soil

Together we roamed this ancient land
the rock I touch, Lewisian gneiss
thousands of millions of years old.
The moss, heather and bracken
unusually dry, sit in between and on
these giants – Foinaven, Stack and Arkle
which change places as we drive through
the highland terrain of grey and green, and gorse yellow
at Kylesku, Glencoul and Eriboll
Ceannabeinne and Oldshoremore
where clear blue waters lap
gently one day, then wildly dark and white another
when skies turn black and thunderous, but by late evening
a rainbow amidst pale grey clouds promise
a morning of blue and golden sunshine.

The mirror I hold up is you –
in it I see someone bright,
kindly and hospitable.
So it’s easy to take on my role
when you beckon me into the big bed.
Too short again our time together as we kiss
and hold each other tight one last time.

A letter to …

Inspired by a piece in one of the weekend pull outs I recall that week I spent with Alan sailing in the Whitsundays, just the two of us because his wife had a deal she needed to close, and none of my friends was able to book a break on those dates.  It was an adrenaline filled adventure and the sunsets each evening were breathtaking.  We would spend every evening, having anchored off in a quiet cove, with a few cold beers and catch up on the last four decades.  

We had grown up next door to each other and then gone our separate ways before our teens, several continents apart.  It was one of his sisters who got us in touch again and initially I’d assumed his whole family was coming on the trip until I realised that in fact it was just going to be the two of us.  We fell into an easy camaraderie from the very beginning.  I was determined for us not to become a cliche – the one where the divorcee was an easy desperate target for the married man.  So it was friendly and platonic and we worked well together skippering a forty footer sloop.

A few beers one star gazing night however, when the moon was late in its rising and the night sky was black as black so that every star shone and twinkled in their brightness our defences slipped a little.  He was a self taught astronomer and keen to share his knowledge, I a willing pupil and looking through eye glasses, swapping some of them between us.  It all led inevitably to a settling down on cushions on the deck, lying side by side to ease the unfamiliar ache on our necks, especially mine.  His hand brushed mine and turning towards me I was aware what was going to happen the same second he kissed me full on my lips.  It felt warm, soft and not unappealing.  Fortunately I was not too drunk in the moment and stopped us from going further.  I asked him if his wife was aware, if by any chance they had an open marriage, somehow intuiting that this was not the case and sure enough his response was in the negative.  

Perhaps he had merely wanted a dalliance, curious as to what sex between us would be like.  But I couldn’t take the risk of breaking up his happy middle class family.  I’d already met his wife and I was certain that his sister would never forgive me or herself should it come to that, since it was through her that we had met up again.   Somehow I managed to convince him of all this, citing my own dreadful experience of trust irretrievably broken due to a misapprehension from a midlife crisis and subsequent divorce.  It wasn’t the time to say that one can survive a divorce, that now my ex husband and I enjoy a better relationship than before.

He respected my response but I couldn’t help wondering for the rest of the holiday and later,  what it might have been like if we had slept together.  And whether I would have allowed either of us to have let ourselves get carried away emotionally. Having tried to have a year of NSA sex last year I know that I eventually do let my emotions get the better of me and would only be deceiving myself that I was just enjoying a purely physical relationship.

An Ozzie interlude

The water was cold even though it was about nine o’clock in the evening. There was no one else on the sand and you took my hand in yours. The anticipation troubled me greatly. I worried about your finding me lacking. I considered making excuses but your grip was firm and I meekly followed you as you led me to the water’s edge. We paused where it lapped at my toes. I heard the want that beat under my skin and all the worry and self doubt ebbed into the background as you bent your head over mine, your lips meeting my own which parted wantonly

That night we spent together was the first in nearly a year and I was reminded of his own hesitation and relative inexperience. But he is a kind and thoughtful lover who enjoyed giving pleasure and said all the right things to improve the experience for me. In the morning I was able to return the favour and we spent the next day on a coastal walk.

We shared confidences and I was aware that giving him an insight into the year before when I experimented indiscriminately with different men and even women might not incline him to think favourably of me but there’s a recklessness in my nature that cannot be suppressed. 

There are two more days to go of this interlude and we have been fairly fortunate weather wise. As for the other forecast, I am unable to hazard anything accurate. Until the next update …

in the cold light of day

The following day she received a message from MJ –

Hi beautiful Asian princess,

If you read this message, meet me at 15:00 at the station, where we took the metro yesterday, upstairs by the entrance.


 It flattered and amused her that she was still in his thoughts.  On the walk to the little mermaid she wondered again whether she would still like to meet him.  There was the adventurous and impulsive side of her who said yes, go ahead – you may never have this chance again.  The more mature and circumspect part of her cautioned against it and the old self-doubt with low self-esteem reminded her that she would only appear ridiculous – her mature years next to his youthful visage and demeanour.

In the end curiosity and a sense of (mis)adventure prompted her to reply –

Well in the cold light of day you might think differently about me 😉. 
All right I shall meet you at street level next to the metro.

They walked about the city and after half an hour of aimless meandering he mustered the courage to propose a different outing –

I just want to whisk you away from this crowd.
Really?  Where to?
How do you feel about a party?
Tell me more – what kind of party?

When he told her it was a swingers’ club, the disappointment she felt at the revelation rather surprised her – what did she really expect from this young man – obviously sex was his sole purpose for striking up a conversation with her.  And her conscience dug deeper – sex and material advantage perhaps?

So in a coffee bar next to yet another tourist site they kissed their goodbyes and said their well wishes.  He left to look for another more amenable encounter and she wondered how much alcohol might have been the reason for her open responses of the day before.

A message from Jan asking her how she was doing whilst she sat at the bar nursing another coffee inspired a flurry of exchanges after she sorrowfully declared that she now had proof that she looked old enough to be a sugar mummy, having just been propositioned by a man who appeared half her age.

He reminded her that half a year ago she might not have been so reticent at the young man’s proposal and asked her what had changed – and so soon.  She had no answer for him – there could be any number of reasons and the combination of them:

1. She had recently broken up with Goran but was not in need of rebound sex.
2. She was in a strange city.
3.  She did not fancy the young man because he was too young, he had come on to her and made it too obvious – she liked doing the chasing…
4. She wanted more than just sexual encounters.
5.  She was not ready to open her heart or proceed with courage.
6.  Swinging sex was not appealing at this stage.
7.  She had only one condom on her and that was an insufficient number.

She realised that she was being silly and decided to return to the apartment.  When she arrived she saw a message from Goran.  With her heart racing, she read it and …

open your heart

Just next to the spiral staircase leading to the toilets at the Plaza Hotel was where he noticed her. They’d had a jokey exchange and when she came back up she had smiled at him. He was pleasing to the eye with a wholesome youthfulness about him. She returned to the coffee bar and was settling down to check her emails when he approached her.

Are you on your own?  It’s just that my friend let me down and I have a dinner party which doesn’t start for another hour and a half to two hours.  So I wondered if I could just kill some time with you for some of that time?

That was quite clever as an opening line – that guaranteed a short time window.  It made her think she wasn’t going to be stuck with him all evening if he proved to be tedious.  So she said sure and he settled down on an armchair next to hers.

He told her he was a post-grad student and had been in the city for nine years on a research scholarship.  He was a Polish man who looked on the very young side of thirty. She was loathe to reveal her own age but in any event he didn’t enquire. She was quite flattered by his attention and after the cafe closed they walked around the city avoiding the more touristy areas until they arrived at an alternative bar.

She’d had two glasses of wine and a shot of rum earlier in the afternoon and hadn’t felt like drinking. Curiously he didn’t offer to buy her a drink but they continued discussing meditation and alternative healing therapies. At one stage he asked to hold her hand and, warmed by the atmosphere of the place – there was a live band playing downstairs and they were seated side by side on a squashy sofa – she offered him her left hand.  He stroked her inner wrist and commented on the warmth of her arm.

She let him kiss her when he took her other hand and they continued kissing in the semi privacy of the seating area. There were a few musicians who clattered upstairs and they broke apart with the intrusion.  It was soon time for him to go to his party and she was exhausted from traipsing about the city earlier.  When they parted at the Metro they exchanged email addresses and he promised to invite her out the following afternoon.

When she went back to her airBnB apartment it was fairly late but she was still high on the chance meeting, the warmth of the young man, his caresses and kisses.  So inspired was she by the encounter that she sat down to complete a sonnet she had begun in the early hours of that morning.  The openness and courage of the young man was refreshing.