With love from Beryl

by Freya Carter

“That is the trouble: we are in two worlds, and it is probably hardly possible for you in yours to picture mine.” – John Jarmain.

You arrived this morning, packed into a bent envelope, once folded to
         attention.
The blue lines crawl about the margins, looking for ways out

and today I feel the desert is your lover more than I – you know
her face and trace her curves in words all sultry, snake-like.

51st Highland Division. First Scotland, then Egypt via Cape Town.
I remember your roads now like your name, blown into every corner

of this house, grit from a sandstorm. You speak to me
of desert fighting, sand-flies, routine training camps. I see you:

pale face, crescent eyes, scribbling the seconds, caught
in cursory moonlight. The birds are wheeling between your commas

and the dust, asphodels invade in tufts of frivol, frothing.
John Lambie plays some old song where marching is forgotten,

sands shift and slide away. Besides the battles, the ocean gapes
wide, like a wound between us. Sometimes I wonder if

our faces sink too far behind the dunes for you, the godless wanderer –
yet still, your letters faithfully wing their way

to foreign shores, lying there, bedraggled, bruised upon my lap.
Your daughter is well, I tell you, and so am I.

It is a pale day, weak from time, and treacherous.
The sands keep rising and still, so much to say.