Sunday, 23 November 2014

Winter Flames

She fills the front windowsill with candles.
Day and night, the dancing lights.
Burning into the winter.
Only in the dark months. Candles crowded on a ledge,
on a ledge above, so many flames.

Children come, they stand and watch for hours.
They stand at the window of Miss Wicks' hovel.
They warm their hands on the glass.
Is this a shop, a candle shop?
Why can't we go in?
See how the little fires spring and die.
See the grey cat sitting behind the stacked candles.
The grey cat with his gold bell and eyes of fire.

The door is bolted.
Knock and no one will answer, only
a few people will put their ear to the door
as if they might hear the rustle of fire.

Is she safe in there? Oh yes she knows
what she is about. She knows.
And people leave candles on the doorstep,
wrapped in paper with tapers.
They write notes: please put this one in your window.

Waiting for a glimpse
of the woman, strangers are told not to worry
or be hypnotized for Miss Wicks is never seen.
Some say she disguises herself as a tall bright flame
and in a flicker, in a moment of mad dancing light,
she looks after her candles as if they are family,
her gaudy bright dancing family in white and gold.
See how the great-great-grandfather leaps!
See how they make dark smudges on the ceiling.

Miss Wicks, the children say,
has matchstick fingers.

Miss Wicks, the children say,
has flames at her fingertips.

Miss Wicks, the people say,
is dancing, dancing dancing with fire.

Keep her happy. Keep her bright.
Miss Wicks is dancing.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Fog Child

The little child is hen-size.
The people here
do not know where she has come from.
From whence? From now or yesteryear?

Girl shape with down-turned mouth,
sharp stones for eyes.
Mother of pearl cheeks.

Oh but feel the intricate work
of her, stepping, dancing.
Holding her skirt.
Hands like two left-handed roses.

The people here give the child a task:
set out into the fog and fill this tiny bottle.
She does not question and they love her
for the silence she brings.

Not quite daylight, stars sparkle
above fog
birds singing loud.

Louder and louder
as the girl tumbles down the hill.

Oh where does she go to stealing
our fog,
where does she go?

And not a word for hours,
ask the magpie,
not a song to her name.

The child is hen-sized,
no, mouse-small,
no greater than a leaf.

She is swallowed into the bottle of fog.
The fog lingers
and no one remembers.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Paths And Feathers


Where do you go when all you have is here,
a small circuit of uneven paths?
There are white berries that have no name.
They are brooding and pale against rain-soaked
natives, the evening primrose flowering late.

In a towering hedge, a gathering
of tiny birds gossip about anything
but the weather.

The trick is to look and again, see
this small route is filled with stuff
that just gets on with it, year on year.
I pinch a bit of this, a feather, a stem.
Pocket the colours for later mixing.

And in the night, all the feathers gather
and dip themselves in ink
to write the poems I have forgotten.

And in the night, the shape
of my curled body becomes a word
without a name. A thankful word,
a nothing particular, a soft burr.