The Watchtower

by Kate Meyer-Currey

‘Shattering’ is the only word she ever

spoke to me, her daughter. She lived in

its shadow. I am the child of guarded

words. I grew up behind walls of silence,

never breached by careless questions.

It was how she protected herself and I

honour it. It was a bitter truth to learn.

Before, I felt shut out by her facade of

containment. I pounded at the drawbridge

of her besieged life like an emotional

battering-ram. She held fast. As I sulked

in the tent of youthful self-absorption, I

thought she did not care. I was wrong.

My father assailed my mother’s integrity

during their forty-year marital blockade.

I was a Trojan horse, sent in to spy behind

the lines. But, like all informers, I served

both sides and said nothing. She, too,

was immutable under the Greek fire of

his verbal abuse. He was a traitor who

derogated her suffering, so she turned to

stone. After my father’s death, stalemate

turned to truce and we regrouped, both

battle-weary. We forged a new alliance.

My mother was the watchtower that kept

me always in her sights. She was remade

from her darkness into my searchlight: a

beacon to my distress-flare. Under its

guiding beam I found my way home.


Sunflower Syndrome

by Kate Meyer-Currey

Mid-July’s rising thermometer has brought

the first sultry heatwave of sunflowers

back to supermarket shelves. I first saw

them this week as I sweated round Tesco

after work. I envied them, dipping their

toes in the bucket, as if they chilled at

their local Lido. They were long and lean

in high-cut chartreuse one-pieces, with

stems for days. With their dirty-blonde

tousled petals, they were ‘Fifties pin-up

girls, fresh from a boardwalk photoshoot.

Hand-picked by model-scouts, they had

survived the killing fields of casting to

make the final cut. Even under strip-lights

their tight-pored perma-tanned faces were

immaculate. They blanked me with their

inscrutable Rayban stares, from behind

shuttered eyes. I was a clumsy wildebeest

eyed up by this blonde-maned lioness

pride. Under their burning gaze, I felt

photosensitive. My hand shielded my

eyes from the radiant heat of their glare.

Normally I’m drawn to sunflowers, but

not today. I imagined how I’d feel facing

their cool appraisal after a twelve-hour

shift and I balked. I need to work on my

summer body before I take that lot on.

Kate Meyer-Currey (she/her) was born in 1969 and moved to Devon in 1973. A varied career in frontline settings has fueled her interest in gritty urbanism, contrasted with a rural upbringing. Her ADHD also instills a sense of ‘other’ in her life and writing. She currently has over forty poems in print and e-journals.

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