Perhaps I’ll say a prayer in honour
of your greatness, light a candle
at the altar of your mythology.
Was it Easy Virtue for you,
The Man Who Knew Too Much,
saw everything through a Rear Window?
Rich and Strange, you were Notorious
as the master of suspense in the 39 steps
of Waltzes from Vienna.
Your focus was The pleasure garden,
An Elastic Affair that left us Spellbound,
peeking through a Torn Curtain
but did you Always Tell Your Wife
how sooner or later you’d Sabotage
the Young and Innocent
humiliate your female leads, make them
suffer on screen for their blonde
icy remoteness. Dreaming, screaming,
you taught them red carpet lessons
those naughty haughty pawns to paw
over, observe with a lady-killer’s eye.
Was there any Shadow of a Doubt
that you were a Psycho. Torture the women,
said Sardou. I’ve a suspicion you said MeToo.
IN THE PINK
It was all so inconvenient;
my To-Do lists were long
and then the world
shuddered to a halt
Central Station silenced,
emptied of all comings and goings
in a ghost town haunted
by a longing for normal life.
Those early days
I schlepped through slow-moving icebergs
shifting sociological sands,
the sharp teeth worry
of black dogs circling.
Outside my window
the cars lined up like soldiers,
clocks turned in a slow journey
round news bulletins and what’s-for-dinner,
sleep was a solace of forgetting –
wakening (if I slept)
was a shock of remembering
everything had changed,
and home was more than a safe haven.
And then – yes! I was grateful
for a still-warm bed, how to sleep
without dark panics of unending nights.
And how I loved the way I could
gradually ease myself into days
of cornflower blue skies after winter
had piled on storm after storm.
Now it’s news when a bike goes past my window
or a man walking his dog whistles softly,
when a train empty of all but essential workers
hums quietly on its way, and somewhere
someone is cutting the grass
under rouge-red cherry blossom
and the just-hatched tenderness of oak leaves.
I inhale the comfort of old books
the sweet kisses in warm banana bread
the tang of a lemon loaf – for there is death
and the fear of death, the anguish
of loss and long recovery – but yes,
there are also births and centenarians
looking forward to their next stage in life
and a three-year-old who laughs
in their belief in unicorns and dinosaurs.
And how wonderful it is that it took a crisis
to meet my neighbours
find most of them are neighbourly
as we lean out of windows
in an exhilaration
of hallelujahs for key workers.
And when I ventured outside
I saw smoke signals of business- as-usual
and a rare plane overhead shouted that
there is still a world to explore. We make a game
of where we had planned to travel –
eat chunks of feta as a celebration of Greece
lather butter on a French baguette
drink sangria. Rome is postponed but we are alive
and this is the 8th wonder of the world.
I find it amazing that
a solitary deer could ever prance
down the silence of Sauchiehall Street,
that there is still sea glass to discover
where the sea nibbles sand
to get its attention,
boats curl on their side
at low tide in the hope
of a resurrection of high tides and skippers
and the river chuckles onwards;
it has much to say for itself.
And, oh, the insistence of snowdrops
as they push towards the light,
birds in flash mobs that sing arias
nothing can drown out, the cat who
mindfully washes himself
with his rough pink tongue,
stretches in the consolation of sunshine.
There are seasons, ebb and flow,
an unhurried moon that waxes and wanes
as it guards those whose lungs
keep fighting, but what remains
are rainbows and a whole wide world
that breathes easier.
I have decluttered the weight
that things can place on the heart,
the too-tight clothing of that normal life
and from the wreckage salvage
the freedom to rise above small things
and the grace that mingles with the space
where hope rises and rises
like bubbles in champagne
the relentlessness of sunsets that sashay
in magenta stilettos and pink gins,
the heartsease of dawns.