States of Poetry Series Three
'A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.'
Inside a structure
of rainbow loops and angles
over a cellophane lake
is Mr. Darwin’s room,
exactly as he left it:
cards tucked in the mirror,
pictures on the wall,
a basket by the fire,
Through damp drifts of umber
ducks parade past the National Museum.
A feathered armada,
flashing iridescent epaulettes,
they salute themselves
in plate glass windows.
And a flutter of parrots –
emerald and rose
hails their arrival ...
a flurry of silken scarves
flung in admiration
landing gently on the
ice pale grass.
Two words for face in my language:
Wajah from the Arabic wajh
rolls off the tongue sweetly
and melts like honey
in our mouths …
Wajah – a fitting sound for
the cherished tenderness of
a human face …
And yet …
I prefer the honest drum beat
of muka. An island word
harvested from salty seas and
Those big laundry baskets heaving at anchor,
a soft lift and fall
like a cat landing on feathers
Nervous passengers toeing the frost,
invited at last, to stand packed
in a cut-down phone booth of wicker.
Each shot of flame brings a slow delaying lift
then the light up-gathering pull of nylon
as tugged seams unite to draw on hawsers, cats-cradl ...
For John and Bini Malcolm
Just when you think it’s all coming together
And you could take a bit more of this partnership,
Time coughs and observes, it’s been forty years now, more than average,
And maybe it’s time to sum up.
In the road to the planets and stars
The step from the croft to the town was the harshest
Then – for a Scot ...
Trapped and snapped,
cut from twisted tin,
a blowfly on the windscreen
preening its compound lenses.
Nothing to be done. They sewed her back,
packed the cut flesh in ice and flowers.
Not one for white gloves,
kneeling to the young and the dying
while those lanky knees pushed out,
she proved kings were film stars,
then deposed the prince. ...