Hotel. Echo.

Standard

A holiday in Whitby.

A gypsy.

And me.

 

Red faced and eager anxious –

heart beating

and shallow breathing –

catching the taste of fate from the waves:

my teenage torpor turned from cynical distaste

to hormone raging curiosity.

What would she say?

 

She breathes cigarettes, kippers, whisky –

and conjures with clairvoyant accuracy:

‘I see a guest house,

and something else.

A reverberation,

a return of sound sent out.

And a rented room – a sea view –

a place to stay, to get away,

but not remain.’

 

I shuffle in my seat: thighs sticky in

unseasonable summer heat.

‘Azure, cobalt, sapphire,’ she says

and flicks her tongue over rouge red lips.

 

The air is thick.

Dark denim blue and seaweed green.

My sun burned skin radiates heat.

 

‘Dillisk,’ I whisper.

I don’t know what it means.

 

The gypsy smiles at me.

‘I’ve saved the best till last,’

she says. ‘Now, listen carefully.’

I see a  man – still a boy really.

Idealistic: hot headed.’

She winks. ‘So handsome.’

 

I lean forward at this –

silver coins gripped tight in slippy fists.

‘Who is he? What’s his name?’

She laughs at me – low and deep and throaty.

‘What’s in a name?’ she asks and laughs again,

holding out her life-lined palm for cash.

 

Then thirty years go by.

 

I’m on the phone to Wickes

to book a fitter for the faulty shower.

 

‘No. Not hair. Hehir.’

And for the hundredth, hundredth time.

‘Hehir – as in:

Hotel.

Echo.

Hotel.

Indigo.

Romeo.’

 

And I’m back –

Whitby Abbey.

Kippers.

The North Sea.

And a gypsy’s idle riddle

of the life she saw for me.

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