Not the river,
no hint of pink there,
to relieve the endless miles
of Amazon’s soft slow
flowing on to meet
the fast clear Rio Negro
which bore us far upstream
— warm wind in our hair,
white wake following behind —
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
of tiny silver studs,
leading down to where
their tender tongues
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
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.