Poetry by Alwyn Marriage




Not the river,

no hint of pink there,

to relieve the endless miles

of Amazon’s soft slow

caramel-coloured water,


flowing on to meet

the fast clear Rio Negro

which bore us far upstream

— warm wind in our hair,

white wake following behind —

through unrelieved

but infinitely varied

shades of green


to where we bathed,

while huge and gentle

creatures brushed against

our legs, swam up

beside us, in between,


their long beaks

opening to reveal

serried ranks

of tiny silver studs,

leading down to where

their tender tongues

were nestling

deep inside their smiles,


the colour of their vulnerability

a pale reflection of

the river dolphins’ skin

which we saw as they emerged

and rose among us

was most gloriously








Genesis 19


Fleeing a city’s devastation with his wife

he was witness to her transformation,

stopped in his tracks aghast, then tentatively

took two steps backwards without turning round.

He spoke to her, gently at first, then cried

with rising panic in his voice,

put out a hand to touch her cold white form,

but withdrew it as he felt the sculpture burn

with the salt tears of strife.


Licking his fingers in disbelief, he briefly savoured

twenty shared years in which she’d added flavour

to his life. Ozymandias in the desert wastes

couldn’t have looked more lost and isolated

than this woman he must now leave behind,

as abandoning the strange and yet familiar

column of solidified sea water,

he set his face to the impassivity of rock

and continued on his desert way, without looking back.






Though so much older than you’ll ever be,

I’ve watched you fondly through your infancy,

then with rising admiration as you grew

graceful and more nubile; but you never knew

how much I loved you.


Aping respectability I frequent

dusty corners of old parish churches,

hide behind rich rood screens where I watch

kindly spiders weave their webs and catch

their unsuspecting prey.


I’m less mischievous than Jack in the Green,

less saucy than a Sheelanagig.

I hide my private parts and never flaunt

my sexuality; but jokes and curses,

strange blessings and raucous laughter

issue from my mouth.


My serpentine Medusa’s hair

waves from between acanthus leaves.

You think I’m wild, unkempt,

and flee as I pursue you,

shouting that I love you.


With an eye on your fecundity I try

to tempt you, offer fruit and foliage,

all of nature’s wild free bounty;

but I know I’ll never win you,

and if I did, you couldn’t tame me:


I am the Green Man.





About the contributor

Alwyn Marriage
Alwyn's eleven books include poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She's widely published in magazines, anthologies and on-line and gives readings all over Britain and abroad. Formerly a university philosophy lecturer and Chief Executive of two literature and literacy NGOs, she's Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and research fellow at Surrey University.

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