Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My cousin Sarah

When I was wee, I was so jealous
of friends with cousins
Cousins were special, secret people
who lived far away
with whom my friends had adventures
without me

I didn't have any cousins.  I had a rubbish, smelly brother
who was two years younger than me
but could beat me in fights by absorbing pain
and windmilling his arms while walking at me, a strategy
surprisingly not adopted by more MMA fighters today
given how unbeatable it is

Then, on holiday in Aberdeen,
my uncle announced his intention to marry a woman
a woman with a daughter.
And in that magical act of matrimony, I had a cousin, Sarah

She was younger than us, but while my punches
could not stop my brother being smelly and rubbish
her trying to kiss him made him run away!

This amazing ability of hers, demonstrated the day of the wedding,
and so often after,
made her the most wonderful girl in the world
Finally, I had an ally in battle.

She spoke with a naive directness that dropped jaws
"When you die, Granny, I'm going to get you a lovely headstone like that one"
a throwaway as they walked past a stonemason

A photo of her on her horse graced our Granny's shelf with love
And every time, my rubbish brother
would turn it upside down
an act of ornamental terrorism
in protest at her
finding his achilles heel

I remember the call telling me she was pregnant
the excitement of new life in her
I remember the call telling me she had a gorgeous wee boy
Just the other day I looked at photos of us with him as babe in arms
meant to send them on
He's grown so much, but is still her wee boy
So much of her in him

We spoke on and off in recent years,
but always at Christmas
would come together
would hug each other hard and promise more contact
promise that I would finally meet her fiance

This Christmas past, we spoke of
her and her family finally braving Dundee
I stole an illicit fly puff on her fag, having quit,
and we promised that this would be the year.

I'll miss her when the Summer comes, I miss her now
Ken had stopped running away from her kisses
but I could see the remembered fear in his eyes
she was my ally, my cousin
and we had adventures.

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