It is too often now
that I think how rare
the silent night, free
of wailing sirens,
lads kicking dustbins
down the road for fun.
How many of those meek few
who keep the silence in-
between? In chippies,
They know the fragility,
of quietness, those who
cup silence like an old
mouse, a downed sparrow,
and keep it close
to their chests.
After the war ended,
they celebrated here
for three days straight.
Sole prints and heel pinpoints
still mark the floor in wild
constellations of jazz and swing.
That night, seventy years later,
watching a moving mass of youth
dance to drum and bass, I saw it,
somewhere in the midst
of it all. The flash of wingtips,
the twirl of a petticoat,
like curtains closing on that
world of war when you danced
for love of life and nothing else.
We walked the farthest we could go
from cars and houses and factories
and grey clouds and rising smoke
to a field, boxed in bush, laid a perfect green.
In our new habit, a fresh routine, we sat
huddled in a copse, breathed in with our eyes closed
this quiet place of untouched, uncaged air
of an unbroken world, untapped and remote,
with not a soul to see for miles and miles.
But I could still hear it, working at the crooks
and cracks of my mind: the harsh waves,
their foam and welter against the rock,
fierce at the build thousands of years old.
It takes a while, I know, but it’s eroding away,
carrying grain and granule in each relentless wave.
A disperse of feathers spiralled to the carpet
as the pigeon flew from one side
of the living room to the other, trying to find an exit.
To the bookcase, to the mirror,
to the picture frame, failing to find the gap
in the window from whence it came.
No blanket we threw or bin bag we swept
could swallow the bird, beating fast
as the shadows closed upon it’s head.
out from beneath
And so we began to eliminate the light.
Switch off the lamp, the computer screen,
cloak the mirror, kill the television.
Allow only sunlight to spread through,
to runway the carpet to the window.
Shut the door.
The muffled applause of fluttering wings
grew distant as the pigeon was drawn to the afternoon sun
and the warmth that came with it.
I’m not quite sure what cage has captured you,
or what trouble has shrouded your mind,
but I’ve seen sometimes it’s only in the darkness
that we can see the guiding light.
A thank you to The Drabble for sharing Starlings and to the kind readers.
It took an entire summer of peer persuasion
to crawl under that fence after dark and tread
the forbidden land of the bowling green.
Our new black trainers, bought for sports in school,
marked the grass in aggressive curves and streaks
as we scampered from one end to the other
in relish of childhood anarchy.
I returned in the light of the next morning,
pretending to chase an escaping tennis ball,
and I scrubbed those stains the best I could,
with the edge of my hand,
my sleeve on the butt of my palm.
Black stain on the bowling green, I remember you.
Beyond our little waxing moon
you’ll find the black holes,
the milky, marble nebulae,
the restless tumbling spores,
rich, rolling clouds that fold
and envelope upon themselves.
This is where the wild meteors roam,
and the comets carve and landscape
the black fabric of the unknown,
where the sandy specks collide
in waltzing gestures, drunk they kiss
and part and kiss again
backdropped by stellar spirals
tinselled with dust,
the back streets to demoted planets.
It gently stirs beneath the surface,
in the cinema sky,
in the cusp of your spoon.
Look up. This could be the warping lens
to another world, a scope far too big
for our breadth or thought.
Otherwise, look down.
You’ll see it’s all contained
in a bowl of miso soup.