Fathers & Three-legged dogs

I love walking early at this time of year. It’s the dark merging into light, mostly. That black into blue coming from the east. It is so hopeful, you begin to believe that everything is going to be alright. The ten thousand things still dog my brain. And my back still tenses like hard steel but there are moments of ease, of lightness. I track them on my walk. Turn this corner and it will get better. Reach the Perygyl and stop, lean against the rail and breathe. The moon is full, the sea just laps and what a sound. It is holidays, rest, thoughtlessness, the encapsulation of the joy, of just being. Thank you. Thank you for this. And then I stop and stand by the hydrangeas in the Castle, just for a moment feeling my feet on the earth. Are the lights on in St Michael’s? No, not today. A couple walk along the Prom, she in what looks like pyjama bottoms. They are walking a three-legged dog. It seems perky enough, a shiny black little thing that hoppitys along. A remember another and the couple that pushed it in a pram.

I called him. Why do I always struggle when talking to him? Are you well? I ask. Of course he is not, he is dying. A quasi-father. He is not my father. Yet, I have the same need to please, to be good enough. I never really interested him. Did any of us? He is concerned with himself, undoubtedly. A very self-centred person, but good. I wanted to talk to her, to see how she was. But I felt love when he answered. He is so reduced, scared. In fear and angry, I think. No, comfortable resignation like him. He became a bigger man as he was dying. I loved him most then. I remember them together, vying. He looking askance at him and then at me. Could you really have come from him? I believe he thought. Is money the only thing he thinks about? I do love them. I love them both, all three, all four. We are the same.

Ah, my brain…ugh, my brain. A long-haired girl walks down Great Darkgate Street with her boyfriend. Another with a girlfriend, she is walking with crutches. A bearded man outside The Angel is on the phone. See you in sec, he murmurs.

Trips, he calls them. We’re off on a trip to see the Kathe Kollwitz show at the Glyn Vivian. It will be nice to be on the road. To be on the move. I keep dreaming about airports. The birds are giving it the gun out there.

It will be good to see her, and them and them. I send emails reaching out. Saying I care, I think of you. I want to see you. I miss you.

In my dreams she points upwards, see, he is there waving at me.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.