Knit ‘n Natter

They’re vermin basically, she said looking out of the window at the two pheasants in the garden. One of them was limping, hobbling about, one wing lowered, while the majesty of his plumage shone.

We’d gone away. Just for one night. A long trip. Six hours in the car with two or so spent in Motorway Services drinking coffee and doing crosswords. I like our trips. I like being on the move. Giving myself over to the journey.

It’s a lovely village. The air smells of cow dung. Not unpleasant, it is a rich, peaty, sweet smell. We walked to his grave. The narcissi they’d planted were just beginning to flower. The ground around his stone was soft, mossy. A downy green. In the morning when I walked, an hour before dawn, the dark was punctured by the cranky croak of pheasants. I tried to walk without a torch, wanting the dark to subsume me. There was no silence. Trees creaked, small bodies rustled amongst the leaves, wood pigeons cooed and fluttered upwards through branches. In the distance, lorries thundered along the A59. Leaving early to miss the traffic we passed umpteen carcases of animals tossed and tumbled onto the hard shoulder. Dead foxes, pheasants and badgers. One badger was so big it looked like a large dog. It’s body was in tact, its fur unbloodied. I thought of Cynan Jones’s suggestion that some badgers are not killed by traffic but are thrown out of cars newly dead from badger-baiting. Such lumbering, yet vital creatures. They, and the foxes, are out of place, wrong on our motorways. Too fast, too crude for such mystical burials. Twice birds flew across our windscreen. Two near misses. In a far field I saw a deer, a muntjac, with its white flash of a tail.

Coming home the fretting re-starts.

She is safe in her new home. Sheltered housing. She is still young and laughs at it. Knit ‘n Natter in the communal lounge and free use of the launderette. That would do for you, he says, when I’m gone. Yes, I say. That would be fine.

The moon grows full. A beautiful walk this morning. No need for a torch. The waves lapped, gentle. It is good to be here. To be home.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.