In the Sun

He stands, lithe and supple,
His bronzed limbs glisten in the sun
He brushes back his hair and smiles
King of the beach
Walking like a lion to the water’s edge
Confident in his clinging shorts
Aware of the eyes of women on him
He breathes deep and his chest swells

She poses on the beach towel
Buxom, her full breasts tanned and billowing
The curve of her hips enticing
Queen of the beach
Sashaying like a leopard to the water’s edge
Filling her bikini with allure
Aware of the eyes of men upon her
She stands and poses, hand on hip

They stand together, King and Queen
Seeing themselves beautiful.
Let them dream.
Hide the mirrors.
No-one imagines themselves
Middle-aged, plump and grey
That’s not what holidays are for.

summer beach

Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission


At seventeen she made up to impress, half of her face at a time; one side flat porcelain, the eye enlarged with kohl and mascara, the cheek blushed, half the lip glossily plump; the other side, uneven, natural and pale. For a few seconds her face displayed equally what she wanted to portray and what she hid.

Now nothing can smooth the shadows and lines but she doesn’t care, because they represent who she has become. She will leave the room with a little make-up, or maybe none. Her friends are waiting and they look only at her heart.

mirror hand

Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

From a link on The Thin Spiral Notebook page. Check it out.

Mind The Gap

Here I am, swaying on the inbound train.
The seat warm from someone else, tea in styrofoam, personal space invaders and noisy conversations.
Rushing from meeting to meeting.
I should be preparing but instead, I’m daydreaming, looking out
At woodlands and slumbering trees, muddy fields and blasted oaks, sheep and horses clumping in the gorsey heath.
And catching glimpses of strangers’ lives – peering into homes and gardens,
And whizzing past passengers waiting at stations, caught in the space between leaving and arriving.
I should be reading the agenda but I’m thinking back to journeys gone.
Could I have imagined myself thus all those years ahead?
I think I thought, deep down, that life stopped with marriage and babies.
What would I have thought at twenty-one?
All those train journeys we took
From Chichester to Southampton to Salisbury to Neath to Kingston to Hove.
What if I’d looked at a woman, older, a proper grown up, staring out of the window day dreaming and known it was me?
What happened to all those years?
The gaps grew between hopes and reality, between plans and fate.
The same face is reflected in the glass,
Just older, plumper, the hair coloured but not for fun,
The smart office clothes I longed for then and loathe now.
The yearning to be at home creating and the job which pays the bills.
But across the gap the linked hands reach out from those barely remembered days.
The journeys I took with Deb and Mo, laughing on the train, imagining our futures.
How could we have envisaged me in the far off middle years, sitting on a train
Messenging them in their small corners far away –
The gap traversed by magic.

mind the gap

Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

Mooring Up

His wife didn’t like sleeping out under the stars. Things might crawl on her, it would be damp and she might wake to find something supernatural nose to nose with her.

So the day the world snapped, he knew he’d go alone.

What he really wanted was to be on a boat, moored a long way from land, never going back to work again. But never going back to work was not an option, the sea was too far away and he could only anchor himself in the garden, adrift of the house he was working to pay for.

Taking a week’s leave he traversed the lawn and swayed in the dappled shallows under the cedar, turning his back on the house. Left against the shore of the back door, a note said “Casting myself away. Don’t rescue me. Yet.”

He couldn’t sleep in the shed which was so decrepit that even the resident bat had gone; but he didn’t have to live in it, just know it was there. The July weather was set fine so he erected a standalone hammock between the tree and the shed and placed a small garden chair alongside, facing into the swell of the scrubbery.

For a few days he was marooned, eating out of tins and washing under the outside tap. He imagined the traffic sounds from the bypass were distant rollers on the edge of his lagoon. In the morning, dew sparkling in his hair and beard, he pretended the pigeons and thrushes were gulls. In the evening, he tried to ignore the wafting smells of tomatoes, garlic and chilli and refused to decode the indistinct sounds of shore: the TV; negotiations between his wife and their teenagers; the rattle of closing curtains. Later, rocking under the stars, he heard the curtains open and knew his wife was risking the supernatural to watch over him. Bathed in her love he fell asleep.

On Thursday evening, he felt a clink against the hammock-stand. Looking down, he found a note in a bottle: “permission to board?” After a moment’s pause, he turned to the house. At the back door stood his wife. He beckoned and she walked across to him, awkwardly dragging a chair and carrying a basket of fresh food and chilled wine.

“Are you running away from me?” She asked.

“No. Just adulthood.” He answered.

“I feel like that as well.” She whispered. “And I miss you.”

“There’s room in the hammock for two.” He offered.

She thought momentarily and nodded.

As the sun set, they lay cuddled in the hammock, rocking over the shallow waves of the lawn and listening to the rollers in the distance.

“No pirates in this ocean.” He reassured her. “But we’ll sail home tomorrow. Only shall we cast adrift again sometime?”

She cuddled into his shoulder, feeling the strength of his arms and the warmth of his body. In the moonlight their faces were transformed, young and carefree again. “Yes.” she said. “We will.”

Reflection 4 copyCopyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission


Three grown women from college were we
Black and white in certainty as we could be
We knew it all at twenty-one; our working lives had just begun
And the world was wide and free.

We’d sat up all night and destroyed our fears
We’d shared the wisdom of our years
We’d cut the apron strings at last; we’d left our childhoods in the past
And shed our final tears.

But here we are now, thirty years on
The certainty, arrogance, seriousness: gone.
We’ve survived long days both bleak and dark; Clung desperately to the tiniest spark
Through illness, loss and funeral songs.

So let’s raise a glass to the girls we were
Of wine or cocoa, we don’t care
And sip it down like the women we are
Whose peaceful hearts still bear their scars
And maybe we’ll talk all night or maybe not
Somethings remembered, some best forgot
Maybe we’ll cry but I hope we’ll laugh:
We knew it all then but now: not even half!
In fact let’s look forward and let’s have fun
Cheerfully knowing nothing at fifty-one!

On the other hand..
At 21 we sat up all night to talk of plans and dreams
We didn’t discuss digestive tracts or arthritic knees
We wondered about the future and the joys of motherhood
And now we’re comparing stretch marks and tackling teenage moods.
We wondered how to do our hair, now we fight to stem the grey
Not wonder if the aches will go, or if they’re here to stay
On the other hand, we used to care if we were cool or hot
But now we’re content with who we are and everything we’ve got.DSC_0034