from The Lizard Silence (1996)

IN REMEMBRANCE

through the woods we take of them
the fruit of the thorn, the bramble

on the long path past the planting
beech and cherry, hazel and may

the light making pools innocent of effect
a greater green, the shape of a leaf

their eyes winking in the hedgerows
black as a cow’s look, a crow’s stare

touching the silky flesh to pull and pluck
we find we have no need, so ripe

a sweet rain falls into our palms
tongues grow purple of its taste

our wrists draw red in lines and dots
for this is my blood, its cost

 

TOAD CALLS

Of an evening
late at opening
the door, on site
I find him,
squat and blinking
back the night,
the unexpected guest,
toad caller
in the darkness
and the damp.

Crouching on the step,
all double chin
and gutta-percha back,
he takes fright
at owl call,
or the brightness
of the outside light,
and finds his way
outwith my gaze
to deep inviting black.

I think of him
ensconced in leaf mould,
right camouflaged,
jocose, a happy jack,
his vital panic
over for the night,
as, palpitating,
brown and warty,
sleep overtakes him,
pays him back.

 

SKATING ON HAPPY VALLEY POND

On nights of chill but little frost
they would flood the tennis courts
allowing a film of ice to form.

A small band played.  You danced,
a hand-made dress of turquoise and black
swirling, like dreams, about you.

And came the greater chill,
the harder frost to freeze the pond,
a happy valley opened at your feet.

The chance support of water in a skin
snapped wings upon your heels, gave grace
its romance, space its sporting chance.

A flash of blades, the lifelines
turned across the ice, opposing, crossing,
merging at your will.

And later, when the fire was lit,
you sat between the knees of men and boys,
held briefly in the slow suspense of time.