Yesterday was a good day.
We bought you shoes and you knew the price,
and we laughed at the man in the café who smashed a plate.
Today you remember the man, but the shoes have slipped from your grasp
to lie discarded with bits of your life,
and fragments of last week.
You are leaving piece by piece,
for a comfy world of platitude and repetition.
Sabotaging all attempts to hold you back,
you are content and unafraid; while I turn to ice,
ready to score and crack with the effort of normality.
And when this is finished
I hope these things will slide as easily from me,
leaving instead that day in the fifties when we walked,
heads thrown back, sunspots dancing,
searching for skylarks.
Around the rim of the dried up pond
the numbered lambs are running.
Joe has watched them for hours
noting the way they leave the ewes, form groups,
follow a leader.
“Cup of tea, Mr Morris? I’ll leave it here.”
Joe sees the uniform retreat,
the kindly, comforting one.
The lambs are feeding now,
butting and tugging at swollen sacs.
Joe sips tea.
How long? A few months?
till they’re rounded up, taken.
He cannot think of it, turns his head,
puts down the cup, careful not to clatter,
picks up the paper but his arms cannot hold it.
Closes his eyes.
Between wake and sleep
no one is running.
Joe sees his lamb with its mother,
soft, dark curls. Rounded up, taken.
In the wagon for Pitchipoi.
The uniforms fade with the mother’s whisper
Early spring just past Imbolg
And among the still-dark hawthorn
Garlands. Posies for Bride, white
amid the black thorns.
I make a mark on paper, a scribbled map.
In the set-aside a lengthy stretch
sparkles in strengthening sunlight.
Each tiny bloom a promise of dark richness
for later, when all nature sleeps. Another mark.
Then I forget. Put the map aside.
May blossom swallows the hedgerows,
Beltaine finds birds nesting,
And weeks on, at Lughnasad with its tired greens,
twigs snap and insects hum as I pass.
But Samhaine beckons. I unfold the sheet and scan.
Muffled in scarf and hat I search for treasure.
Luxuriant fruit, not black but mauve and frosted,
firm to the touch and heavy in the basket.
Buoyant in the bottle, colouring sugar to deep red.
At Yule, with the birth of the light, the first taste.
It rolls like honey on my tongue and
I glow like solstice sunshine,
while among the still-dark hawthorn
She is sparking the life force
I am born in a war zone
and will never know the world my mother did.
They have taken her, she fixed her gaze on me,
took my face, left me her cry.
And it’s quiet.
She told me of this place, the trees, the hillside,
grass to scuff my knees. I sink down to it now
feel its cool blades on my cheek, smell the fresh earth
with it’s hint of spring mingling with distant funeral pyres.
And I wait for the boots on the cobbles, I am four days old.
I am four days old and must die for the wind blown in
on a farmer’s coat.
You were not in my head, but a Land Cruiser purred by;
Splattered screen, muddied tyres and I put you at the wheel.
I heard your voice, a smoky laugh, a tale to tell
about the wheels, the speed, the rally.
So, now I read again the tributes;
Clumsy words from men not used to outpouring,
with whom you’d skidded along forest floors; raced to the line;
grid referenced hidden tracks and Little Chefs.
“Sorely missed by all the team”
“Condolences.” “I’ll think of you.”
“Burns Night not the same without our Englishman.”
“Tartan Control is clear.”
Mud is dried, flags and barriers stacked away.
The deer reclaim the forest, motors a distant whisper.
Radios, all whine and hiss, tune for the call:
“Tartan 6 is clear and free to stand down. Over.”
For Richard Davenport who died in 2004