I am sorry, sweetheart, I could not protect you, but the wildlife will still
call: badger, fox, mouse, frog, slowworm, robin, they will guard
this space, despite the rain, will trap sun, a swing-seat near the wall
can catch the heat, dawn will hear the goldfinch sing, damsons falling
softly one by one
spiders, small creatures, all their scurries leave no footprints, trail
of feathers, hair or even bone, this square of place, secluded, a surprise,
good order out of concrete
I’m sorry, sweetheart, that you were left wounded, that the night
was high-wind-un-lit, despite the gold-tailed orbs, their tinge of blue
that mesmerized but left no message – none that one could understand
further down the night, a carcass of life in badger form, or maybe fox,
a spade stuck in the ground by thieves who tricked earthworms into
splitting in two halves.
with lines from Mario Petrucci
The future is on every road and every road a cul de sac, in every cul de sac,
a box, in every box, a canvas bag, in every canvas bag, thirty-two army troopers,
dressed in plastic, painted green, little hands hold little rifles, one small man
down on his knees. Warning! Small parts! Choking hazards! please retain
Please retain these choking hazards, place them neatly over there. This side of the
fence/ is clean. That side/ dirty. Understand?/ That side/ you must wear a mask/…
this side/ you can breathe/ freely… This side you have cows and chickens, they
can eat the grass and grain, you can have your longed-for children. Imagine that!
They will grow to be small soldiers; plastic-coated, painted green, little hands hold
little rifles, one small man, down on his knees.
with kind permission, from Mario Petrucci’s Fence in Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl
DO NOT GO DOWN TO THE RIVER
I remember the kick. Rifle butt against young bone.
Lightweight – steel – ergonomic, anti-shock design.
Hard rubber, non-slippage, high velocity. Adjustable
trigger, for eight-year-old fingers. Bird. Aim. Fire.
Do not go down to the river.
So I wait till washday, leave Mum with a mangle,
take up rusted pushbike, astride it, astraddle,
the saddle pushed high, up in the crotch line.
With heels on the pedals, I pass
hunched-around houses with stone-broken windows,
turn swift into lanes all lined with sting,
fast over scrap land, footbridge and drainage
skid past the paths with the signs saying stop
where grit flick flies through rotten, rotten Roding.
His coat is tweed; his boots have brown laces,
his trousers tucked into grey socks
and his braces hang in skipping rope loops.
His arms are all drawings, stories and tales
a patchwork of veins, hair, reptiles and nails
sunk into skin, etched deep into pores.
He wears a flat cap – just like my dad.
LEFT TO HANG
Then I hear a dog-fox call.
It could’ve been a deer or canine bitch
a distant screech of feral-feline hitched
by skin and claw.
Hung up this way
the land is turned and high above
a felled-again stygian sky–starless
I this landscape am, wild as ancient
woodland, savagely untameable
dog-rose tagged and bordered by a brook
wide as any river, vast as all the seas.
Hear me, for I am feral-feline, deer
and canine bitch, a distant screech
of, left to hang, will come unhitched.
Chaucer Cameron’s poetry has been published in, journals and online including The North, The Interpreter’s House, Atticus Review. Her poetry-films have screened at festivals and universities. Her latest work Wild Whispers, poetry-film collaboration, recommended for the Ted Hughes Award 2019. Chaucer is co-editor of Poetry Film Live