© Marina Rodriguez
Dividing his time between Extremadura in Spain and West Sussex in England, poet Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade. Following on from his debut collection, The Knives of Villalejo – a work some 20 years in the writing – Matthew recently published his second full collection, Whatever You Do, Just Don’t. He's also the author of the popular, influential and much-praised poetry blog, Rogue Strands.
You’ve taught me to sip a café solo,
to let its bitterness seep through my gums
and mark the end of our tapas and wine,
just as you’ve taught me to relish silence
in the slow, shared sliding-by of minutes.
I no longer force the conversation
these never-ending Sunday afternoons
while muffled westerns blink on the telly.
An ancient carriage clock fights to strike four
and your mother pours her glass of water.
Perhaps this week she’ll suddenly repeat
her suspicion of a neighbour’s illness.
Or we’ll sit here without the need for words
till your father stirs and cranks the volume
to signal kick-off at the Bernabéu.
Heading for the Airport
The cab suddenly turning up
twenty-seven minutes late
after my ten frantic calls
from the pavement outside your block,
your dressing-gowned silhouette
hovering on the balcony
with a halo of wispy hair.
My suitcase thrown in the boot,
doors slammed, the driver crunching gears,
I forgot our goodbye wave
while checking my flight. If only
that cab had left me behind,
longing for Spain. No way to know
I’d never see you alive again.
The Last Carry
El Paseo Marítimo, Chipiona
You were seven and hadn’t asked
for one in months, but the salt wind
had whipped your energy away
before calamares fritos
at our favourite place on the prom
left you woozy, slumped in your seat.
Even as I threw you over
one shoulder and braced for the trudge
to our house, my back was hinting
at a future without your breath
tickling my neck. At you walking,
beside us, if we were lucky.