“On the Border” by Morgan Melhuish

There’s the rustling sound of blazers, the small cough
I know so well, just before I enter the kitchen, the adjustment
of feet in soft sand. As I turn on the light, I try to catch
them in the act, but it’s always the gulls I see first,
hovering over wrack, caught mid-dive in the early morning
light, just past his left hip. The younger one, that is.
These last few nights insomnia has forced me up, padding
the kitchen floor in lion slippers, like a caged tiger, prowling
for milky tea and digestives. I’m sure they’re moving
in their frame, I sometimes turn the lights out and stare
at them, wondering if they’ll think I’ve gone. His jacket
blends in with the dark cliffs, the sun just beginning
to illuminate them, as velvety as the chocolate tops of biscuits.
There seems to be an awkward silence as the waves lap
onto the beach and the two stand apart, the kettle clicking
off. A mother knows when something’s going on behind
her back, these two are no different. Perhaps I’ve interrupted
a clinch, as I read his postcards again, letting tea go cold
and watching the two men on the border. I’ll never cross
that frontier, nip into the frame and tell them it’s all right,
I wonder if either take sugar. It’s the same button-hole,
fresh and crimson on the young man’s lapel, the crease
in his trousers, gazing into the kitchen. They look like black
and white movie stars, curiously coloured. Nothing like
my son, as he gives me another grey hair. Sometimes I stare
and stare until my eyes start to water, the burning of tea
through my mug, waiting for them to make the first move.


Morgan Melhuish has had poetry published in Manifold, short stories in The Next Wave and A Treasury of Brenda and Effie and is developing further work whilst travelling the world. You can find out all about his adventures and see more of his writing at www.mmorethanapage.com