Her hands emit the hundred-garden floral

face-slap of Vaseline Intensive Care, filling

the Renault Estate. Sniffing, sickly, right to the back

of its family-size boot. I protest, but her hands insist,

keep wringing it in, inhaling all twenty-thousand

pungent petals as she speaks at the speed

of the A12. Her hands sing. The scent-slick smashes

into my headrest, a mother’s firm hand drifting

from the front seat, offering a nosegay

of Trebor Extra Strong Mints.


There’s a much later image - deleted, digitally

by a slippery click of my hand. Her hands

convey a Christmas pudding, face shining

but eyes unlit. That instant, the brandy-fumes

exposed the same red as her hair. Only it isn’t

her hair. Afterwards, intoning as slowly as land-

masses shrink or expand, she said the first time

she shed tears was not the obvious, but the loss

of her eyelashes. Her eyebrows. Her nostril hair. The tiny

mammalian tufts warming each digit on every hand.


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