Snowy Down by Judith Goldsmith

She left from the gathering around the grave, leaving behind the kindness that couldn't reach her. She ignored the concerned calls and drifted deeper among the heavy granite slabs. She had no direction beyond 'away'.

She saw the stark red, harsh against the snow, before she saw the tiny corpse. A sparrow, plucked from the air by winter's call and shredded by a passing cat, perhaps. She looked, but didn’t register this other, lesser, death.

Even so, she reached unsteadily down towards a fluffy, furled feather lying in the glistening snow. She touched it gently. It had so little substance that her skin could not believe there was anything there - but then her finger tips no longer knew how to notice touch. It was one of those unexpected changes that had come on her with age. The drying skin, turning to paper; the muffled hearing; the clouding eyes. They had laughed together at it.

Carefully, clinging for support to a nearby stone, she knelt in the crisp moisture and picked up the little grey down. She smoothed it against her cheek. It wasn't there. She brushed it beneath her nose and could smell its egginess, but felt no tickle. She let it kiss her lips and at last she knew it.

She remembered then the first ever touch of her lips. Back came the deep silken glide of it. The smooth softness of it slid from way up, near the brain, the eyes, the ears; straight down past the heart, pausing in its beat; across the rising nipples; and on to the thrust and drive of the lust. Such a soft touch, that first murmur of another woman's lips on hers. Such a promise.

She leant against the masonry, among the names of the lost, and allowed the deep yearning to rise up in her. And as it rose, her tears began to fall. Tears for the theft of those lips that she loved so much. There beside the dead stones she let the first chill of the future creep over her.

by Judith Goldsmith


  1. Powerful and poignant imagery. I found this very moving.


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