Eileen Earnshaw as Shirley Holmes, Jane Moriarty, William Shakespeare, et.al.
Eileen and Ray, Shared Story
So, there I was, hanging off this cliff. Not exactly part of the day I’d planned. Thank goodness the strap of my binoculars had held. For some reason, a line from Dad’s Army hit my brain whilst I was dangling.
“They make very good binoculars, them Germans!” Only now the strap was slipping, slowly, slowly, through the piece that adjusts the length. No point in shouting, I would never be heard above the gulls.
“Kittiwake! Kittiwake! Kittiwake!” I calculated that I had about 18 centimetres to live, not inches, these were German binoculars after all. My fingers were desperately searching for a hold on the millstone grit but the sea had worn it smooth. If only I had listened to my mother! I don’t know what she said, I never listened. 16 centimetres to go now. I couldn’t get hold of the strap at all to slow it down.
My feet scrabbled against the cliff face, or rather my boots did. My feet were playing cowardy-cowardy-custard and hiding inside the boots. I could hear loose stones and shale bouncing off the rocks below and my heart pounded with the rhythm of the sea. I felt my fingers loosen and I fell down, down.
The strap had given up its last 15 centimetres in one short, fast “Zzzzzzzzp.” I didn’t feel I could fly, I only had time to think “!” before I hit the water, cold and salty, then went under. I know now how difficult it is to breathe water and it’s not that I am a swimmer of any note but I was then and I reached the surface, I saw the stars.
Most of them were round my head, like a bad cartoon but some shone in the sky above.
My saviour had a name, written on every part of their body, the name, difficult to pronounce, was Rnli! Rnli had saved me, Rnli had protected me, Rnli had rescued me. I felt like shouting their name.
RNLI! RNLI RNLI
Rnli was my guardian angel, granted, there were no wings and not a sniff or a sign of a golden aura but angels come in many shapes and sizes and if it happened to be an overweight man with a boozer’s nose and a hook – he was an angel!
© Eileen Earnshaw & Ray Stearn 1st July 2021
Below, the terrain, an intricate pattern
Square on square to the distant hills.
latitude, longitude, marked on a graph
a mint new morning in a sun blessed land.
A red dot indicates target locked on.
White noise and a steadying hum,
below, a wild and wanton flowering
eats the air and vomits smoke.
A target reached, a bomb released
duty to queen and country done
the gunner moves his index finger
a red dot indicates target locked on.
© Eileen Earnshaw 2020.
Our regular Zoom workshop replaces the physical meeting at Touchstones and takes place on the first Thursday of the month between 2-4. This month it fell on November 5th so we had to write about Guy Fawkes’ Night, Bonfire Night, call it what you will. What I loved about facilitating this session was the marvellous memories we all brought back, I’m sure there’s a book to be had from this!
Eileen sent in her poem for our enjoyment.
Time, a misted image.
Sixty, seventy years ago,
My brother, in his too big wellies
Fireworks high in each hand.
Sky and flame reflected in
his national health lenses.
His face glows, hot, sweating.
That night, he was the god of fire
dancing forwards, skittering back.
Reds and golds streaked his body.
Acolytes brought parkin, treacle,
peas black in curdled sauce.
The fire crashed, sparks fly
Guy Ffaulks face curls and shrivels
Recoiling into ashes,
bonfire night is over.
I remember my big brother,
luminous in firelight.
©Eileen Earnshaw 2020.