Without bucket or spade we build
the sandcastle, dragging and gathering
piling and patting our little Camelot.
I excavate a moat, shape a drawbridge,
a sloping road leading to the keep,
while you look for shells to decorate
the edifice, or so I thought, the way we'd
done last holiday some months ago.
But this time you have another purpose:
instead of ...
Some months after the funeral,
checking emails from the other hemisphere,
there's one from Pauline; subject: Hell.
It's not promising. My mind traverses
the last five years, their litany of loss –
a son, two friends and mentors,
then you, lovely sister, and like some grim
comedic postscript even Frankie
the cat succumbed. Suffice to say
(For my grand-daughter)
Coming in with stones from the garden
your first impulse is to make them shine.
Washing rocks, you call it, and give them
full treatment, soap and flannel and rinse,
your three year old hands and eyes intent,
absorbed, and this not a one-off game;
it becomes a favourite as if
to establish your own ritual
my mum, being this, terribly emotional, also some part, egalitarian,
'I give him six months, then he won't be, any longer. and she
who is afraid of the mobile
under clock water when the print reverses, St Pancras, the Hardy
Tree necked in hours, of roots, of entry, oublié, headstones
addition, s'il vous plait ...
I mother a scorching fence
I mother a child against a fence
and the cry
here come the shellshocked to arm the day
here come collectors for the shells
in decades past a series of dykes was known as the venice
of the floods themselves, with a sweet sap
once the prey has entered the trap
the leaf closes, and within about 30 seconds
a senior minister has touched
two or three trigger hairs,
bristles on the distinction between
private beliefs and public morality,
about two weeks ...
what we'll do is remove the dusty fly-spotted umbrella light-shade from over the bed, and we'll put there something that catches the will of the leaves outside the windows and holds it in the centre of the room. a leaf doesn't have an individual life, but it seems to, and the green at the middle of that life is what I'll feed you. that will come in as milk, translucent blue humming calculation ...
This black dress
is also a painting –
it hangs on a wall
where light holds it close.
It's a doorway to places
no-one quite knows;
that bloom and rain
with extravagant vistas.
We've sometimes entered
into the painting
dipping dark hats,
riding down lanes
Every morning, with an authority
of clinging, earthy foundations
a house sat in air.
Inside someone was singing an aria
about how love inflects its failings
and a woman, absorbed in her toilette
considered how pained words work
the world awry, even as air fills with song.
Outside a man hammered boards
to make a dwelling; crows sat on a wire
as i ...