by Marcia Packman
I remember the light that sifted blue through the tent
and made your hands look pale,
the way our sleeping bags came together in a musty embrace.
You wriggled from your warm cocoon
and donned yesterday’s sweater against the morning chill.
I heard the hiss of the zip as you opened the door, and your breath
as you sat to put bare feet into green wellington boots.
I imagined the sensation of dust under your toenails.
Cows were mooing in nearby fields.
You shielded your eyes with your hands as you left the tent;
it was sunny and the light made you squint.
You stood up and stretched, unkinking the back muscles
that always cramped slightly from sleeping on the ground.
Other people were moving about, talking quietly and making tea,
their bodies making bulges in the sides of their tents
as they bent over awkwardly to pull on their clothes.
The air smelled of fresh grass and frying bacon.
You took the big water can and walked to the standpipe,
boots making dents in the dewy grass.
I heard you turn on the tap, and cold water thrumming;
the can bounced in your hands as it filled.
You walked back to the tent and charged the kettle,
wiping your wet hands on your legs.
A slight marshy smell of gas, then cordite
as you put a lit match to the stove.
You found the cups in the grass outside the tent,
and shook them free of dust and spiders,
before adding teabags and a splash of last night’s milk.
Condensation scaled the side of the kettle as the water heated,
and you reached into the tent for a plastic bag
to use as a seat on the damp grass.
I watched the steam as it rose and disappeared over the windbreak.
The kettle whistled as the water boiled, and you poured water
into the mugs, squeezing the tea bags and taking them out.
You cradled your mug and gazed briefly down at
your reflection, and blew on the tea to cool it down.
Nearby, a great tit was calling ‘teacher teacher teacher’
while a blackbird played the flute.
You were smiling.