No 5 - 1975
We can’t sleep tonight. The ice has formed —
from thin skin at evening
to deep stone. With midnight
the boat’s aground in it.
Planks shriek against the hardening.
Below deck a film of frost pales everything.
Our breath makes beads of ice. We pace
between the hatch and bunks.
The world would end by ice
tonight, for sure, if we lay down.
Come outside: the wind has sculpted
sails to marble drapery;
on the line our laundry freezes to
a rigor-mortis of our bodies’ clothes.
Night will hardly darken all this glass —
the stars are treble on its rippled plane.
Birds stiffen on the surface,
bellies up, like fish.
We started from a tropic on whose shore
the lizards’ tongues were flames of malachite
in leaves that trailed on to the tide
and crimson fish were couriers there
to caverns where eels uncoiled their sting.
Night plankton burned our wake —
for years we have been heading north.
When lips are tucked away for good
and rigid as ice-starched shirt and trousers
we pass the climax of our slow miasma
and the river hardens in the arteries
till the heart with the hull surrenders
to stillness and is broken like a stone,
when our histories are minuted, adjourned,
our faces upturned to a Sabbath star,
this will be the scene if we can see,
the fish arrested with the drifting tyres,
the dry snow driven into dunes of ash.
It was not like this in the other place —
there all was fire and water,
nothing stilled the waves
that might be furious though they never died
to the intolerable vacancy
we pace to keep the blood awake. Come down.
We’ll light the burner, thaw our fingers out.
We are the ashes that will cover us,
our inch of life, our mile, our field of breathing.
- 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