PAINTING THE FRONT DOOR
The first thing a visitor sees
that crack in the mouth
of my home taking the mick
groaning every time he’s opened
claiming to be a hundred and twenty
insisting old timber needs shielding.
It takes hours to prepare the door
clean the wound with sugar soap
flake off paint chips and splinters
with a gentle plastic scraper
stroke him with a damp tack cloth
sand down his rough edges.
I watch videos on YouTube,
choose wood filler with care
warn him he’ll lose the power
of speech, promise he’ll be pain free
wait for a sunny day to fill
the narrow gash, smooth it over.
I seal the frame, cover him
in two coats of oil-based black
burnish his Victorian brass
with salt, vinegar and baking soda.
The oiled hinges are silent but
I know he’s in there, somewhere.
NOT SO MUCH DYING AS …
spl int er ing
small thin sharp
slivers of bone
break off embed
in new generations
carry a skelf of dna
on to infinity
d i s s i p a t i n g
a random puff of air
passing on joy
a tight-packed firework
ignited by flame
bursting its bonds
erupting in a crosette
of colour and light
reframing death as
a parting gift
a place on earth
to those you know
and those you
will never know
from Latin: locus- local; vorare – eating
Organic beets dusted in dry mud,
watercress, swiss chard, cavalo nero,
intricate spirals of romanesco,
mushrooms smelling of deep earth
nestled in brown crumpled paper,
a hairy bumpy turnip,
identified later as celeriac –
dropped off in a cardboard box.
I discarded the glossy images
in cookery books, played
with new combinations, gloried
in trial and error, the sensations
on lips and tongue; sweet, sour, salty,
sometimes bitter – mouth poetry.
After a few months, I lost hope,
the climber which brightened my view
of the garage wall, shrivelled, died.
I waited beyond my fear of frost,
bought a new large-flowered variety,
the fast-growing Pink Fantasy.
It offered abundance, unfurling stars,
tepals with bars of deep rose,
dusky red anthers and filaments.
Poised to plant it out, I glimpsed
tiny shoots unfurling in the long grass
at the end of the lawn, Clematis Justa.
I tried to dig it out but my hands refused
to grasp the trowel. It had given me so much.
I felt its painful struggle back to life.
The new plant still stands in my kitchen
pot-bound, roots turning in on itself
while my old love bursts its buds in the sun.