Where’s me dinner woman?

James Claffey




Limestone. Asphalt. Bitumen. Stones in the road, a telephone pole, silver paint flecks falling away, crude hearts scratched into the metal, fleeting encounters in teenage life are immortalized for the lifecycle of the metal cylinder outside our house. Mam at the door. “Your tea’s ready, come on in, now.” Sound travels over water. Mam’s voice travels over the tarmacadam ribbon, across the road and up the lane into Hollie’s Plant Hire company. Dumpster trucks with slabs of ice, 5′ x 4′ floes, turn fingers blue, shatter on oil-soaked ground. Perimeter wall is lined with barbed wire, three strands wide, the whole way along. Rust. Orange. Stained and ripped sweaters tell the truth. Over the gate, night watchman’s caravan. A drop of the hard stuff and he’ll not likely come out to investigate random noises. Bolts and tools, girders and spools of electrical wire. Steal what you can. Thievery begins in short pants and ankle socks.

The width of a lane. Size of Wembley Stadium, or Anfield, or Elland Road. Games of three-and-in disrupted by reversing lorries toting giant metal vats. Don’t dive on the ground. Trip and stud your palm with stones and bits of glass. Pick them out of the bloody mess. All those years and a window never broke. Not for want of trying. There’s Bill stumbling up the road, umbrella-armed, mackintosh wet- spotted, swaying like a sailor off a sea journey. Never been to sea, never been to me. Drunk as a lord. Smell the whiskey at thirty paces. Easy to do given the times. A magpie picks worms out of square lawn, wriggling before disappearing down the gullet. One for sorrow. Seven for a secret. Yes. Never to be told. They’re dangerous, right? Secrets. Don’t tell. Don’t tell. You’re in goal now. Skinned knees, bloodied scabs, snotty nose.

About the Work

James Claffey

James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and Australian cattle-dog, Rua. He is the winner of the Linnet’s Wings Audio Prose Competition. He received his MFA from Louisiana State University, where he was awarded the Kent Gramm Prize for Non-Fiction. His work appears in many places including The New Orleans Review, Connotation Press, A-Minor Magazine, Literary Orphans, and Gone Lawn. You can read him at www.jamesclaffey.com.

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