Song of Innocence
I plant flowers in our first window-box –
confetti-petalled geraniums, fuchsias
flamboyant as flamenco dresses,
trailing lobelia’s modest white stars.
They have not built on the strawberry field yet –
the ripening fruit nestles innocently in its straw,
nursing its splinter seeds, its growing runners,
and generation is an unfinished business.
On that beach near Zakros, we eat grilled sardines,
and tomatoes dripping seeds in red juice.
In ancient times, they smelted metal here –
today, languorous waves cannot hold their form.
Children are not thought of yet.
At the wedding, Mary showers us with rice –
how it stings when it hits.
We cross the bridge
over the full river
my body smuggling
a strange confinement,
in hiding with our grief.
The road home will never
take us back –
some water never
goes under the bridge.
My cheated breasts
and I cry in the car –
as it rains outside
on cows in sodden fields.
Who is this woman, this wild-haired, red-eyed woman
who hates all pregnant women, all young mothers –
who would ram them with her supermarket trolley,
push them into duck-ponds, shove them into
the path of passing traffic? Who begrudges others
their first-borns, their new babies too, wants
to spoil their complacent cappuccino afternoons –
who wants to tear tasteful sympathy cards into shreds,
rip the heads off flowers, stuff bouquets headfirst into bins,
throw consolation chocolates, and well-meaning cakes,
back at their givers, strangle the smirking boys
who pass the note across the back row, who wants
to murder all the well-wishers, choke them with their words –
it was probably for the best – you can always have another one –
and haven’t you got your figure back quickly?
On the dark screen,
shapes shift, quiver,
coalesce into images.
lap the sides of a coracle
where you lie, curled
in the hull –
This round, your head,
this curve, your spine,
and there, your heart
and your arms outstretched –
as if in greeting.
The Night Feed
Each the other’s new-found land, we are still
learning this world, you and I, learning each other –
you are only half-sketched, and I already half-erased.
In my thin white cotton night-dress, I am ghostly
by moonlight – raised by your cry, called cow-like
to milking, home across the narrow lane of the landing.
We are the only people in the silent, sleeping world –
I marvel at your liquid eyes, your soft breath
thin as a pale mist rising from summer fields,
your tiny fingers light on my blue-veined breast,
how I set you going, and how we keep your time.
Days later, we walk a cold winter beach;
you – my only living child – run ahead
on the bare sand, chasing after your father.
Each one of us is alone on a vast
expanse, beneath a wild sky.
I study your reflections in the wet sand –
always that space
where others should be,
and sometimes are.
Suddenly, you stop and stoop, squat down
in that child’s pose, call out to me, and
I come to you – always I come to you –
to see what treasure you have found.
This time, a pale, new-dead fish
fixes me with its unseeing eye.