Mrs. Gummer at the door.
She brings a bowl of potato peelings for the pigs.
Her shadow, blood red against the quarry-tiles,
ignores the worsening pain of swollen joints.
My grandmother is reluctant with her thanks,
showing nothing on her face except yesterday’s argument.
Slowly, the light between them becomes minimal,
and in the hallway, the mirror reflects them both,
standing in daily defiance.
As the peelings simmer in a large saucepan on the coal fire,
they chat about family, lips wet with cold tea,
eyes meeting across the table’s darkness in moments
of reserved silence.
And as the small room measures a friendship in gestures
only they understand, light from the fire diminishes,
and the air chills. Outside the steamed window,
thin rain falls invisible, the pigs cross a threshold of mud,
running to a closed gate, trampling in newly fallen apples,
blood red, like Mrs. Gummers shadow.

Rowland Hughes ©