No 12 - September 2000
The poem begins with silence, a blank page
and a pencil poised, holding expectations.
Always there is a little fear: something good
may happen or, still-born, something fall
awkwardly across the paper.
There are no promises, no guarantees.
You need air, you need to taste the world.
The shoreline is a vast, almost perfect arc;
the sand, heavy to your heels. You begin
breathing to the rhythm of your walk.
Your face stings sharp in the salt-wind.
On making the firmer sand, your pace quickens.
Oyster-catchers and herring-gulls forage;
waves glitter and boom in the late light.
If you glance behind, you can see your footsteps
trailing back to your beginning; they contribute
their comments, altering the artwork
of wave and wrack and shell.
You began with breaking waters, with phone calls
and a sixty mile am hour dash through October streets.
Someone knocked and it was your time to leave,
tunnelling darkness to the breathing world.
They cut your mother in the delivery room.
Scalpel, forceps, drips and a snaking of wires
in a sterile, white light. And, of course, blood.
Or perhaps you began earlier than that,
much earlier. Perhaps it was just after Christmas
and there were snowstorms and darkness
and cold seeped into every bone.
There was a bed that was warm though.
There was the look of lovers under soft light,
the electric kiss and touch, a guiltless release.
There was peace and you were there.
No longer everywhere, you were somewhere now.
No longer bird and tree, stone and brook.
No longer grassblade, grains of fine sand.
No longer the rustle of the wind at night
or a drifting cloud over the sea bringing rain.
You were hidden, dark, beginning, begun.
The stars begin now, igniting their sodium sparkles.
The air has ruddied your face; you smile.
If ever you thought yourself happy, you are now.
If ever you sought a simple contentment
it is now within your grasp.
As your feet wander back to the cottage
your mind returns to the poem: words and silence
and a pattern shaping itself.
Yet it is only after the meal has been eaten
after the letters have all been posted
after the computer has been fed and shut down,
only after the oil tank has been filled
after the bills and taxes have been paid
the phones answered, only then,
when your wife and children play rummikub
downstairs and you are left alone
with what remains of your life, only then....
the pencil, the silence, the blank page,
and the words begin and you marvel
opening a small, ill-wrapped parcel of joy.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The