St Kilda Post Boat, winter 1886
Select a sheep for slaughter
…………………an old one, a tough one.
Remove its slack stomach,
………………….clean, eat the rest.
Fetch driftwood from the rocks,
………………a few feet square, not waterlogged.
Carve a wee boat, a notion
………………no need to be accurate.
Gouge a deep hole, centre square
………………..to hold fountain-penned missives snug.
Seal against wind, water, chance.
………………..Inflate the flesh balloon, check for leaks.
Tie fast to the vessel, kiss to fare it well.
……………Consult the tides, take to the shore
you’ll know where’s best. Watch for skua.
……………Throw in your tales, hopes and gossip
Trust in the Gulf Stream.
Teuguise, Lanzarote 1619
Pirates enter on a day storm thick.
The shutters are snicked too late,
fincas barred in vain. Heavy sky
tricks the watchers as sails are furled
down the coast. Death is here, on the cobbles.
The raiders twist in corkscrew smooth.
Flagstones shine sangre-slippy with the spilt
lives of sons, uncles, friends. Hidden away
Juana thinks of the old man her father
has chosen for her groom.
The women jostle to peer through slits
in the fortress that squats on the volcano.
The ground shudders to the whack and
crack of bones in the town below. Echoes
rebound in courtyards. Maria and Fayna puzzle
at the marauders’ blue eyes, bear-fierce beards,
careless laughter. Juana’s mother pushes her
into the shadows,orders her to cover her ebony hair,
hide her jewels. But on tiptoe, Juana marvels at
the grit and spit of lava on their lips.
Clattering like well worn beads, pilgrims
still come, perhaps to see the Dragon Trees,
their barks clotted with blood-red resin. Perhaps
they come for the miraculous
Maria, Nuestro Seniora del Pino, taken
down from the branches where she appeared. Safe
in her silver shrine she waits
In this town, another Maria, one del Toro,
donned her heavy lace mantilla, knelt
in silk and satin to learn
from her namesake. Wed to Simon Bolivar,
an ocean away, she thinks on
La Seniora and her warnings of
the fierce heat of a firebrand.
Here I am bumflapping
at the edge again.
The crumpled gown refuses
to close, unpainted toes dangle.
Check my bag – phone, bruised
I think of ribbons tied to branches,
scallop shells pinned to cloaks,
of IVF, of incubators.
Bring the card to my lips.
Flor de la Vida
Madre de Dios
that poor woman
But I’m here, not my usual day but ..
I saw him in the cantina
drunk on murals.
So what’s new? A floosy with him,
not her slut sister or a usual whore.
No – a carmine tart
and Frida pin pained here.
God forgive him.
She slumps, a contorted poppet,
her soul cracked.
I saw that corset once
No tequila. She’ll not suckle
that bottle tonight.
And she’ll ask. She always does.
And I’ll lie. I always do.
I’ll salve soothe her scars, pluck
milk magnolia, magenta bougainvillea
to fiesta above that thunderbrow. I’ll fetch
her easel and she’ll paint herself whole.