The Old West Riding
Rachel J. Fenton

Your eyes, you told me, as though I couldn't see,
sitting beside you on the bus
as we rattled and juddered and communally
polluted our way home from tarn,
were not merely hazel but were,
if I could take note, actually many colours.
And then you named them like the slices of a pie chart.

The bus was new, inside the seats recommissioned
from a vintage model, circa (date of significance here);
defurbished, like when you asked if I knew me
and said you had a crush on her,
only you changed your mind not long after,
chose that lunch time in the library to tell me;
gathered your friends around to confirm:
yes, she does have a moustache; no, she doesn't have tits.
A failure to my gender. Crush crushed
but for three weeks in between you'd given me white wings
and set them patting softly my secret shame.

My stop came first. I could remember what else you said
on the bus if I wanted, only all I remember of your eyes
is the green shrapnel either side of your pupils.
Gift of God to trees but easier to get out of than any forest.
Alighting, a blast of autumn sent a flurry of feathers
into the doorway, a rifle's broken back, and I feel nothing;
finally it has come to this, and I see only pigeons.


  1. Rachel, is the 'Old West Riding' of the title the Yorkshire one? I found this intriguing, telling of adolescent angst so vividly, but at the same time somewhat opaquely (which I DO like!)

  2. Sandra - so sorry I missed this comment when you posted it! Yes, it's the Yorkshire one. Thank you, your comment means a lot to me.