Tuesday, May 24, 2011


For weeks the rain goddess has seeped
through the black soil, released
a soft stench of old rot
from twisted fingers
of Holm and Chestnut; roots
pull the rain down by the hair,
hold her under till the bubbles stop.

We sit on a moss-green stump,
branches drip intermittent
on the last leaves; a tintinabula of sky.
Our mudded shoes suckle mulch,
sodden compost, carcassed bark.
By the solstice, she comes apart like flax,
crushed into treacle and bitumen.

We hold our breaths in our hands,
spawn clouds, stare at stalks of dead-weed
ever-still in an abandoned bore ditch.
Weeks snag in an open drain,
rip open on rusted packing wire.

In the new year, through panes of ice,
pale leaf skeletons rise to the surface.
Light wounds the water table
in pockets of bruised silver,
slides through the tall jade grasses
to mirror, like mercury, the thunderhead,
the spit-flecked sky.

It had been said
she would be returned to us
but we only find pieces;
the fingernail of a tulip bud,
an almond eye staring from the whorl of a tree.

Commendation Stafford Hoard Competition 2011


Maybe we’ll meet each other one day
and I’ll ask you why you keep that dried magnolia leaf
in an envelope in the drawer by your bed,
even though I know it is because
when the nights are that sticky, tarmac dark
and the muffled braille of traffic
draws you farther and farther away
from yourself, you might take it out
and bring it to your lips
and such a hush of silence will descend
down through your fingertips and up into your arms
at its touch, even though it’s brittle now
and so leathery it could break,
but you hold it cupped like water in the palms
because no one can see you
and bring it up to your mouth in a gesture of faith
and the leaf itself will never fail, ever, to release
that - was it May - afternoon almost drunk with pollen
flying crazily through the sun-spasmed leaves
- the silly dogs chasing their tails and sticks -
and the light as soft and gold as air-syrup,
and with your head nested
in that lap you were thinking then
this might even be that moment you could
hold onto forever, that moment
when you watched it fall
and caught it in mid air.

2nd Prize Ledbury Competition 2010