A selection of poems from...
Considering The Lilies and The Naming of Things Against The Dark
what did they bring?
And were you filled?
Was it enough?
And would you go that way again?
Almost a lifetime we have lived apart.
And they who brought me news are long dead now.
They said you’d found a quiet town,
quite near the sea, and settled down.
I think of this.
Of the salt on your lips.
The years go by so quickly here.
And I have learned to lean against the pull.
It is a small pain now, but I shall not lose it.
And all is well, and I wish you well.
That familiar face on the back of your book,
the dark man, striding out, on Midgley Moor.
Us, burning heather, building butts.
You working too.
Back then. Out there. On top of the world.
Inside, that litany of names:
Crow Hill, Churn Milk Joan, the rest.
Names, like spells, known to the few,
invoked for your slant purpose.
I do not love your poetry,
though often I return to it.
But you were there and left your mark.
As men will do, as I do now.
This ancient impulse of the heart:
The naming of things against the dark.
on a cloudless
the crowds in St John’s Square
will part, and every head, and mine,
will turn to watch you as you pass:
A miraculous swarming of atoms.
I shall check my watch;
it will be ten to three.
Detail (Treblinka 1943)
Having levelled the camp.
( Prudent )
Having exhumed the corpses
from their mass graves,
burned them and buried the ashes.
( Unlike those careless Russians with that business at Katyn )
their cargo of 800,000 souls,
men, women and children,
down The Road To Heaven,
( the ‘tube’ as Stangl called it )
with such diligent efficiency.
Last, they planted lupins.
Made In China
Today I found your plastic sword,
quite by chance, in that space,
between the hedge and the summerhouse,
where the ladders are kept and some jerry-cans of diesel.
And I have spent a long hour,
turning it over, in my mind and hands,
grieving, my son,
to think that you have gone unarmed these twenty years.
There is a small, tattered, photograph,
black and white :
my mother, and me, asleep, in her arms,
against a backdrop of late winter birches.
She is wearing a smart chequered overcoat; belted.
I am bound up, tight like a pupa, in a heavy woollen blanket.
And on her face is a look of such rapt concern,
as though she knew, even then, that I was utterly defenceless.
Those summer Sundays at the zoo.
All the family, picnic, cameras.
This and that, and then the lions.
Always fun to watch the lions.
Watch them grinning, grooming, swinging
long-armed, through the high grey branches.
Almost human are the lions.
Peeling back their green bananas.
Today I awoke:
to a room filled with sunlight.
A young wife, sleeping, warm, beside me.
From below, in a garden, the voices of my
This, before I moved one finger.