Evening at Priory Woods

The sun goes down over Priory Woods and we stop at the ruins of the South Chapel.

The blanket smells after laundry orchids, and in the attempt to avoid alcohol, we drink Sweppes Tonic and no gin.

M5 cuts through the torso of Britain, driven by fear of viruses.

This was meant to be an evening of birdsongs and elderflower breeze.

Instead, the humming of the cars hits us from the left and barking dogs from the right.

A women is playing badminton inside what used to be the monks cloister.

‘Davaj, davaj’, she says in Russian and our eyes nod to each other in unison.

Every time we come here I tell you: ‘I think I was a monk in my previous life. No, not a nun. A man monk. A hermit’.

But, you stopped listening.

Low flying insects speak of a nearby pond and my kindle has just turned on a night shade.

Geraldine Butler’s Year of Wonders lights up but I can’t read.

There’s so much we could talk about. What did we do with the 17 years of our lives? Why are hawthorns still blossoming? Why are we on M5 and not D2?

You scroll through your phone again and again, just like you would have done in our living room.

This evening, Sandwell Valley is our living room, because we’re sick of our real living room, when we’re living in it.

‘This is where the monks played Nine Men’s Morris’, I say into the blanket that still smell of orchids.

You smile and I know it’s time to go.

Another day is nearly over and we don’t quite know how to spend another and another and yet another that are on their way.

‘Or are they’?