From my window

by  Jenny Holden

in a café on the main street of this sordid, clapped out seaside town I watch a woman (over the hill, careworn, her best days behind her) stand for ten minutes staring upwards with a look of nothing but – I have to say it, for it is exactly that – rapture on her face.

Unkempt, wind picked brown hair with wires of white, she wears a cagoule and jeans and walking boots while the shoppers pass her on the Friday morning pull between the chemist’s and the coffee shop, the poundshop and the pasty place.

For ten minutes she stands looking up and out at something I can’t see and then turns, with a look of something achieved, and off she goes down the urine-rancid rain-slurred streetlike the cat who’s got the fucking cream.

By the sea, some things are clearer. I pick up a stone made brilliant by water. In a minute it is dulled; gritty and pallid in my palm. I toss it back.

A white bird is caught in the light, a streak of gold on the sky, pressing down on air.The many projects I have in mind dissolve beneath that easy glide; that easy, accessible beauty – as natural as a woman’s face mustn’t be