The Watchtower Seasons by Rosaleen Lynch
Before dawn in the summer high off the dry and cracked ground we scramble up the watchtower’s wooden struts, hand after hand, bare feet following, replacing one with the other, like climbing clavicles you say, until once more at the top we drop bags from shoulders, the soft thud a reminder of hauling sacks of potatoes or nets of fish or bundles of peat dropping in the trough and we each look out over the cliff drop where for now the sea is kept at bay and the boats are out and you take a kiss before I offer it, and you say sorry as your lips release, you forgot it was my turn, that you were impatient, and like with everything, one in three is true.
We run the cliff tops, chart the coastline tract, map its sudden edges with bare feet, where once was land is now space, we teeter like it’s the ladder of the watchtower or the cabin stairs or roof, or the boat or pier, but here the edges are not definite, they erode with each year’s flood, crumble, and only when your foot lands can you tell it’s gone, but we tombstone where it’s safe, the fastest way to sea, the safest if you consider landslides, you say, and, you go first and you’ll have to put your arms out to right yourself and you’ll sulk when I drop off the cliff as if I’m already dead, and say you found me underwater staring past you, not a bubble coming from my lips, so you pressed yours to mine, to fill my lungs with air, and when we’re on the boat, and I’m looking at the watchtower above, you’ll ask me if when I jumped I was wishing I would die.
The summer clouds are sparking rain, and we hang in hammocks in the watchtower amongst supplies, strings nailed to roof beams or on hooks on wooden walls and there’s a damp breeze moving through the smell of dried fish and the chicken roost, pulling faraway clouds closer, thunder near, until the sound of turning pages disappears, and I tell you, I don’t think we’ll need a book to birth this baby, and past my swollen stomach, I watch and count, all along the clifftop as the other watchtowers stand waiting for the rising tide.
Rosaleen Lynch, is an Irish youth and community worker and writer in the East End of London with words in lovely places, like CRAFT, Smokelong Quarterly, Jellyfish Review, EllipsisZine, Mslexia, Litro, and Fish, shortlisted by Bath and the Bridport Prize, a winner of the HISSAC Flash Fiction Competition and the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize and can be found on Twitter @quotes_52 and 52Quotes.blogspot.com.