Sunday 17 September 2023

Sunday Serial: The Story Weaver and tales, by Sally Zigmond: QUINQUIREME, old wine




The wind whips a skipping rope of hair across my face. Salt, mustard, vinegar, pepper. Bubble gum, Bubble Gum. What do you wish? The vehicles roar down the hill like the wolf on the fold, their cohorts gleaming in purple and gold…until the lights change and I smell salt and seaweed although the city is miles away from the ocean. 

‘Quinquireme?’ my head of department spat. ‘Old-fashioned elitism. You can’t expect kids to relate to that.’ I shrug. Feel the words, roll them round until the edges are smooth, Qinquireme of Ninevah. Topazes and cinnamon and gold moidores

Put out to grass. I swing my bag of books up the hill to where the old oak shades the bus, and off we go. 

The bus swings past the Polly Garter terraces, gardens that grow washing and babies. When Mark was three I soothed him with words. It is spring, moonless night, in the small town, silent and bible-black… and off he’d sail into sleep.

He works in wood. Broad as an oak, sinews like saplings, soft as sawdust and poetry.  Sandalwood, cedarwood and sweet white wine. Mark drinks Real Ale, dark and malty, rich as amber. 

I took my classes to that oak before half of it split away.  Robin Hood slept in this oak, I told them. See! There’s Merlin curled in the silver birch. Listen! Listen to its leaves. You don’t have to understand poetry to hear the rhythm of words and wood. 

The bus sails on, stately Spanish galleon rising on the crest of the by-pass. The wind picks up, tossing the seagulls over the roof-tops like torn scraps of silver foil—and oh!

My bag falls onto the floor. I straighten up. The world has splintered into blocks of wood. Children’s bricks of solid images scattered across the floor. Sandalwood, cedarwood, sweet white wine. Outside, a stiff man, scarf horizontal in the silent wind, freezes on one end of a lead attached to a wooden dog. That woman, her mouth, an open letter-box of laughter, is at the door, her arm a branch scratching the bell. The frayed man with a carved ponytail on the seat in front, dandruff like sawdust on his collar, stares, his face a chiselled gargoyle.

I lift my arm, my bag solid as my mother’s mahogany sideboard. The bus is now empty of all but the driver, a cigarette in his mouth, the smoke a thumbed smudge. 

More people. Wooden people. Painted clothes, uniforms. Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, policeman, paramedic, nurse… 

I am in a bed. Mark is here. I feel the softness of cloth, the whisper of a heart, the tang of new wood, spicy as ginger. The warmth of a son. Topazes and cinnamon and gold moidores.

Don’t speak Mum. But I do. Ivory and apes and peacocks.

He leans into my mouth. Picks up the words:  Firewood, iron-ware and cheap tin trays.  

About the author

Sally Zigmond's dream always was to read and write.When her sons were occupied during the day with full-time dedication, she attended various adult education classes run by the local government.She eventually stumbled on "Creative Writing for Pleasure and Profit" and she was hooked.  Her commercial fiction has been published by The People’s Friend, My Weekly, The Lady and Woman's Weekly. Her more literary fiction and has won prizes and competitions and much has been published in QWF - Quality  Women's Fiction.  
Hope Against Hope a Victorian novel was published in 2011 and Chasing Angels, a novella in 2019



No comments:

Post a Comment