Falling

It appeared overnight, beyond the thick of woods.
A hole, long, narrow, like a grin, stretched a metre
through the dirt. I fed it sticks, rocks, bigger rocks,
to no response of sound. I tied a torch to string,
fished for understanding, lowered the slow spin of light
to brighten only stone, moss, a millipede,
concluding this to be just a mouth, toothless, syllable-ridden
with echoes of my chants and songs from childhood.

You were intrusive, persistent, throbbing my frontal lobe;
certain, persuasive, that I wanted to chance the depth,
tempt the darkness, have the hole swallow me
in my entirety and leave this land, the things I knew,
the people I loved. It would be easy, without valediction.
I could simply plunge, prepared: knees bent for a landing,
breath held for a possible underground lake,
and to be otherwise content with an eternal falling.

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Life Is Not Hurrying

Our hike is over by the small light of early morning.
Mist has slept low in the fields and hazed the hills afar.
You and I still with our breaths, rosy cheeked, happy.
I think of how we are just two humans,
two animals, creatures, who wrapped ourselves in clothes
for warmth, tightly strapped boots to our feet
because we felt some need, some drive, to ascend
and see a sunrise. The talk and talk to do it, days and weeks,
and how easy it was, simplistic, to incline this tor,
even on a night of minimal sleep, on a portion
of oats and milk. We perch on a lump of stone, like birds.
Our course below, faint, a line of mud footpath
weaving the landscape where hundreds of others
have walked and written the earth in route.

It’s evident now, truly now, that we are,
temporarily, occupying a planet, some rock in space
and time, one so old and aged and parental.
The terrain soft and sturdy together, the rain light
and refreshing, the wind gentle and tender.

We witness the sunrise, our view for miles.
The blaze of sun ignites the land and with it, things become.


*a tor is a high hill, often craggy, rocky

The title is taken from R.S. Thomas’ poem Bright Field, which inspired this piece. In the grand scheme of things, the growth of mountains, the evolution of species, life is short. Seventy odd years against, an estimated, 13.8 billion for the universe. But to us, to anything living, it’s the longest thing we ever do. Some minutes, moments, I have taken for granted, but I always try to make the most of now. To listen, to taste, to feel, to see with complete acceptance and awareness of worth and value. Earth, this lush rock of green and blue, married in calmness and calamity, is beautiful. What a pleasure!

 

Adagio of Comfort

His mornings are an orchestra
concise, complex, complete.
Routine and formal formula
to help make his ends meet.

The warming of his coffee brew
snapping buckles on his briefcase,
he softly hums to Voulez-Vous
with a mouth full of toothpaste.

Originally published March 2016

Careless

I’m not one for holding moments. There’s years
of this life uncredited, unrecorded, left to a memory
that fades on its own terms because I wasn’t much
for journals or photographs. I’ve let chapters fall
to deep voids, episodes swallowed in their entirety,
I’ve freely allowed the lightest breeze to carry chapters
now forever lost, gone, forgotten,

but please, please, I need this one archived,
branded in membrane, remembered as well
as my name. It was last year; our flat was a rash of mould,
the windows were thin, fogged, and the bed springs
ached, and the oven was gassy and dangerously old.

We were dancing to David Bowie, drunk, careless,
savouring the seconds of each other’s company
in our little square of rented space.
The volume was so loud our neighbours stomped
on the ceiling and jiggled the lightbulb to the music.

 

The Horror

Death sometimes lets
nature take its course.
It might explain why
he has often been seen
standing at the tip of a
pirogue, racing down
the Congo river, arms
wide spread in joy,
his bare feet bony and white
perched on the wood,
hurtling towards
his calling comfort
heart of darkness.

Originally published September 2016

Starlings

And then, before I could guess,
you had crawled back, silent, strong,
you were resilient, I’ll give you that.

First, a smudge, jet black, spreading,
smokey, to an ink stain, which unfurled, erupted
to a bloom of thick cloud, ill and dense.

The uncertainty in myself returned,
mind and body, and while I was glad
to have you gone, there was something beautiful

in your return, and how secret you’ve become,
like a rush of starlings, folding, enveloping
upon themselves hidden before a clean slate of night sky.

Calling

I had two dreams. The first,
it was the last night on earth.
I was meandering through
a crowded pub, careful not
to spill the pint in my hand,
and I sat opposite my father
at a round table, a dimming tea light
between us, and 
I leaned closer
to hear his words 
drowned in cheers
of the carefree 
locals making their final
moments
 the best they could have.
My father, he tried, but said nothing,
and his breath came through his lips
fragmented, like spokes cutting air.

The other, I was old, wheelchair bound,
and I was being pushed around the garden
of my childhood 
home, stopping at the lavender,
the tulips,
the roses thick and neatly arranged,
the birch I planted at ten or twelve, which was
strong and white as parchment. 
I was happy,
knowing this was my end, eating dark chocolate
as a last dinner request, hooked on morphine.
I don’t know who was pushing me, they were quiet.
We chased a melody, some song I remember,
faintly, not knowing if it came from the pond
or the shed, the old gate or the flowerbed,
what seemed forever, us tailed by some
great muse of wood or stone or steel

and then I woke. In cold and sweat.
A gentle bawl of winter wind came down
the flue, like the voice 
of an old relative I had,
a name I couldn’t place,
homing me,
calling.