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