"I like 'Whag-ner'" I say,

but: "Vhagg-ner' he corrects.


I stick my tongue through

the empty space where my two

front teeth used to be.


I follow the shadow of an orange cat

as he ducks under the ferns; his

tail is still wooly between my



I am laughing, soft toes buckling

under the jagged stones.


I am holding his hand; and he is studying me

(somewhere in the background, my mother

is painting her lips and the vinyl Vivaldi

is scratching in my ears.)


Somewhere inside myself, a teenage girl

is curling sticky limbs around herself and

reminding me to forget.


He says it was Isolde who rode the barge up

the river (that I look like her) and that my hands

held Tristan as he sucked in breath like smoke



To cry in German; Gaelic - to cry inwardly

without words.


He taught me the meaning of my name.