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Terry Collett Oct 2019
l'uomo non può salvarsi
the Italian monk said
-man cannot
save himself-
we were in
the monastery garden
digging potatoes
for midday lunch,

seul Dieu peut
nous sauver
Dom Blaise uttered
-only God can save us-
and I listened to him
taking in his greying
tonsure and beard,

I opened the book
heavy and aged
smelling of time
and Christ on His cross
-Christi in crucem eius-
fingered and page worn
worn by fingers and eyes,

absque omni
condicione electionis
Calvin said
-unconditional election-
He does not elect us
because of our merits
but by His sovereign choice,

but Dom Joseph said
that is not Church teaching
we are saved by our freedom
to choose and accept
God's grace
and we sat by
the monastery beach
face to face.
Terry Collett Jun 2018
Sonia watched her parents
drive off in the car.

They never waved,
nor did she,
just watched them go
out of sight
to some dinner dance
for Polish veterans.

An evening to herself.

Benny couldn't come:
he was going to an opera
in London with his mum.

She went to her parents' room,
opened drawers,
scanned through
the wardrobe.

She selected a few
of her mother's dresses
and laid them
on the bed.

She liked the red one
without sleeves.

She took off her jeans
and blouse and tried
on the red dress.

It seemed
to fit her well.

She hadn't seen
her mother wear it.

Her mother must
have been slimmer then.

It zipped up
at the back.

She zipped it up
and did a twirl.

It made her look
like some actress.

She smoothed it down
with her palms.

Put her hands
on her hips.
Wiggled her hips.

She wished Benny
was there.

An evening
without Him.

She took off
the red dress
and put it back
in the wardrobe
with other dresses.
Just as it was.

She closed the door.
She put on her jeans
and blouse
and went to her own room.

She imagined Benny
was there with her.

She undressed slowly,
pretending Benny
was removing
her jeans and blouse.

She lay on her bed
and hugged her pillow,
pretending it was him,
kissing him slow
and long.

But it wasn't the same,
something was wrong.
Terry Collett May 2018
What'd think
she said
we could go back
to my place
and if the parents are out
we could get down
to some *** stuff.

I doubted it
her old man
was like a Mafia boss
kind of guy
who spoke broken English
from his Polish tongue
and her mother eyed me
as if I'd spat
on her mat.

What are the chances
they'll be out?
I said.

She looked at me:
sort of good chance
she said.

We'd been to the flicks
and seen a war film
about General Patton
which I saw
between kisses
and her fiddling
with my buttons.

How good a chance?
I asked.

Let's go see
she said.

So we did.

Her old man
opened the door.

Why you late?
He said.

Film was longer
than I thought
she said.

He gazed at me
his dark eyes
almost touching.

You go now
he said to me
and you go in
he said to her.

He closed the door
and I walked
down the drive
moonlight above me
glad to be alive.
Terry Collett May 2018
There was a large
crucifix above your bed.

Your father's idea
to keep you pure
and virginal as a nun.

Dust gathered
on the head and shoulders
of the plaster Christ
and along the plastic crossbeam
wood-like brown.

I gazed out the window
looking across
the cricket field
and tennis courts nearby.

"They've gone out"
you said from the bed.

"What if they return?"
I said
watching a couple
in the tennis court
prepare to play.

"They'be gone to London
to see an opera"
you informed.

I looked at you
lying on your bed

"Don't you feel
like being watched?"
I said nodding
at the crucifix.

You smiled
"Make it more exciting"
you suggested.

I listened out
in case your parents
returned unexpectantly
and your Mafia- looking father
caught us at it
on the very bed
beneath the Crucified.

"You are wasting time"
you moaned
"not often
they are out for the day."

I gazed out the window.
The couple
in the tennis court
had begun to play.
Terry Collett Mar 2018
He pushed an old wooden
wheelbarrow, the monk who
passed me by on the path

to the woods. On the way,
I stopped at the monk's
cemetery on the right. Huge

stone tombstones marked
out in Latin who they had
been in the monastic life

and when they died. I had
known none of them, but
God did in His timeless zone.

There was a feeling of peace
there; no rush or clamour
for recognition or status

other than that beyond the
world to give. I stood in silence
reading the names. Birds

sang or called to each other
from nearby trees. Sunlight
shone down like a blessed kiss.

I moved on towards the wood
and passed on through to
the private beach and stood

and stared at the sea. I pushed
away thoughts of Sophia lying
on Mr H's bed trying to ******,

her eyes blue, her blouse loose.
Terry Collett Mar 2018
The bell tolled.

The priest/ monk
entered from the right.

He knelt
and kissed the altar.

I sat on the other side
of the grille, black painted,
with twists and turns.

He bowed to us,
then turned away
to face the altar.

He began
the Latin Mass.

All knelt as he began.

One muttered to my right
a secret prayer;
to my left
one fingered
a wooden rosary,
mouthing Aves
and Glory bes.

He Latinized
his back to us.

I mused on Sophia
trying to ****** me
on the dead man's bed.

Her Polish/ English language
softly spoken
in my ear.

He read the Epistle
of St James.

The rosary pusher
paused her *******.

The prayer mutterer
silenced her words.

Sophia, I mused,
lay out on the bed,
hands behind her head,
legs spread wide.

The priest/monk
read the Gospel
of St Mark.

I closed my eyes.

I pictured the Crucified
in my dark.
Terry Collett Feb 2018
The door closed behind us,
your father had given you
the layout of what
you were permitted to do
and what not.

As we walked along the path
into town, you said:
after the film if my parents
are out, maybe we can.

Can what?
I said.

Can do things,
you replied.

The evening air
was sharp as a blade,
the moon hung above us
like a bright coin.

Bit risky,
I said,
what if they come back
while we are doing things.

You worry too much,
you said.

If your father came back
and caught you doing things
you'd be scared
and worried,
I said.

But that makes it exciting,
you said.

We walked past
the parish church
lit up by lights,
walked past old gravestones
the names and dates
almost gone.

We'll be like that
one day,
you said,
be out of it,
be nothing,
be dead.

We walked up the street
looking at street lights
lit up all ahead.
Terry Collett Sep 2017
I was working in a factory
which made camping stuff;
I was busy in different departments,
when a young student started
(a little bit younger than I was )
on the Monday.

After a week or so
he stopped me and said:
I understand you like
classical music?

Yes, I do, I said, why?

Have you heard any
of Mahler's symphonies?
He said.

No, I haven't heard
his stuff,
I replied.

You want to get
his 7th symphony,
he said,
it's very good.

I'll try and get it,  
I said.

A few days later
he slit his wrists
with one of the knives
they used for cutting twine;
medics came
and took him off.

He never returned.

I bought Mahler's 1st symphony;
I gave the 7th a miss
just in case it had
an infectious kiss.
Benny at work in 1969
Terry Collett Jun 2017
Gillian came into
the laundry room
of the old folks home.

She leaned
against the door
and looked at you.

Why are they
talking about us
having an affair?
she said.

Are they?
you said.

Yes I heard
a rumour
and one
of the old dears
said she'd heard
from one of the carers
Gillian said
with an angry tone.

You emptied
the tumble-dry
of some of
the old men's clothes
and folded them up neat.

Why would
they say that?
she said.

No idea
you said.

She gazed at you.

You looked at her
tall slim frame
and dark long hair
tied in a ponytail.

If my husband
found out
it could
mean trouble
she said.

Well it is nothing
to do with me
you said.

But it is
Gillian said
moving towards you
it is you and me
they are talking about
us having an affair.

It's a lie
you said.

I know that
you know that
but my husband
will think there is
and he will be moody
thinking it true
and he'll say
there is no smoke
without fire.

She fiddled
with her
thin fingers.

What are we
going to do?

You looked at her
what can we do?
you said.

Well you tell them
there is nothing
going on
she said.

You sighed
will they
believe me?
you said.

They have to
she said.

The door opened
and Winnie came in
she smiled.
she said.

A bit
you said
George wants a bath
and I have to bath
Sidney too.

I can help
with Sidney
if you want
Winnie said.

They'd be good
you said.

Winnie looked at Gillian
who was emptying
the washing machine.

You all right Gillian?
Winnie said.

Yes I suppose so
Gillian said
and went red.

She took
the basket of washing
out the back door
to the washing line.

What's up with her?
Winnie said.

No idea
must be
a woman thing
you said
what Gillian
would be like
in bed.
Terry Collett Jun 2017
Busy day at the home
I bathed Sidney and George.

Sophia wanted me
to have ***
in the empty room
on the 1st floor
but I never had time.

She sulked
like a spoilt child
who wanted her
*** smacking.

Maybe another day
(*** that is).

Wrote a letter
to the monk
saying I'll be visiting
in April.

Played Wagner's
Tannhäuser opera
musing on Sophia
her blonde hair
her icy blue eyes.  

Mused on that time
we had it off
in the late
Mr Cutt's bed
she moaning
as if
she were drowning
and I listening out
in case
someone heard
and came in.

My mother
made cocoa for bed
about work
and my day.

I said it was ok
but about Sophia
and ***
I didn't say.
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