…You clear them away, usher in a future not featuring you. Michael Laskey, 'Birthday Cards'
While hunting the posh cutlery for my cousin’s annual visit, I found them stowed in your sideboard, opened one to declarations of love next to a wobbly heart drawn by my primary-school hand. That’s when I remembered the cards from David I’ve hoarded myself in a cupboard at home in Spain. They’re stacked and waiting patiently for a decade or three to pass and his fingers to dig them out.
You’ve taught me to sip a café solo, to let its bitterness seep through my gums and close the curtains on tapas and wine, just as you’ve taught me to relish silence in the slow, shared sliding-by of minutes. I no longer force the conversation these never-ending Sunday afternoons while muffled westerns blink on the telly, an ancient carriage clock fights to strike four and my mother-in-law pours her water. Perhaps this week she’ll suddenly repeat her suspicion of a neighbour’s illness or we’ll sit here without the need for words till her husband stirs and cranks the volume to signal kick-off at the Bernabéu.
Stored in your cupboard for decades, this malt vinegar has strengthened while waiting for a battered cod. Squat-shouldered, the bottle’s bossing my ketchup, reeking of chippies and flaunting its post-war label as if nothing’s changed, as if pints could ever defy their decline into half a litre.