outside the beauty rooms

by uzwi

Thin wind & grazing sheep. We collect the old key & trudge between drainage channels to the church. It’s colder in than out. Someone has abandoned a black & red umbrella by the font; at the other end, on a windowsill less than five feet from the altar, there are huge fresh roses in a cheap vase. It’s like the window of a pub. (Later I’ll write, “A church like a pub, a pub like a church. Heritage creep,” perhaps a little glib.) Back to the village, where lemon yellow lichen thickens the roof tiles. Outside Serene Hair & Beauty Rooms, someone asks: “When did you last have a new thing ?” I can’t hear the reply, but he goes on quickly, as if he’d anticipated it, as if he doesn’t want an interruption: “& they’re still selling ?” After that it’s something about window dressing & a decorator & I’m unable to context it enough to understand what they’re talking about. As they move away I think I hear him spell out the word “toes”; then recite, “House. Louse. Mouse. Yes, mouth. But touch,” as if he’s giving the other man a lesson in pronunciation. Across the road four or five schoolgirls laugh suddenly at something of their own.

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