Gusts and ghosts, the rattle of traps, the tap of rain asking to be let in or out. It’s still January but the year’s already tired of itself, tossing calendars in the recycling and putting down deposits on a whole new set of dates. I’m finding it hard to distinguish between sleeping and waking as I sit to break bread with schoolmates I’ve not seen since the 60s. I know that most of them are dead, but they don’t, and to tell them seems unfair, or at least a breach of unstated etiquette; so, I answer their questions about my job and why everyone’s wearing masks, and pass the new potatoes clockwise around the table. All the while, those tiny sounds of an old house in an old year are converging into something that’s close enough to music for those kids from the Music Club to pull out their fiddles and accordions and join in with the squeaks and sighs. Everyone is leaning in and smiling, chorusing a song of rain and paper-thin leaves, and plumping pumpkins; but when I take a photo to share online – #justlikehalloween #goodtimes – even my own face is missing.
Oz Hardwick is a European poet, photographer, occasional musician, and accidental academic, whose work has been published and performed internationally in and on diverse media. His prose poetry chapbook Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018) won the 2019 Rubery International Book Award for poetry, and his most recent publication is the prose poetry sequence Wolf Planet (Clevedon: Hedgehog, 2020). He has also edited or co-edited several anthologies, including The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry (Scarborough: Valley Press, 2019) with Anne Caldwell. Oz is Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, where he leads the postgraduate Creative Writing programmes. www.ozhardwick.co.uk