New Poems

The Return

Accident has brought them together,
the grand piano and the single chair,
listening in the abandoned sanatorium
for night's quiet breathing, its va et vient
here on the shoreline of the window's bay.
They are waiting for winter to sail in
along the straits of lime trees, for its ghost
to flow through them into the house,
the rooms where clouds will gather,
rose-spotted paintwork peeling softly,
half-moon fanlights rising, sinking.

They can never forget summer, wheeled
out onto the terrace to catch the sun,
music like fluid in the air, the walks
between the colonnades of leaves,
the talk, the friendships and the brief affairs.
Like animals on a darkened field
they watch for the returning patient,
her fevered hair, her voice of thinnest ice,
carried in as always by her grandfather
the sea. Everything that happens starts
and finishes in that avenue of trees.

(first published in the Hippocrates Prize Anthology 2014)

 
 

Italy to Lord

It's dark in here and forest green: Britannica,

sixteen oak trees in a London living room,

the little girl my mother in the bookcase glass.

Italy, Ithaca, Izmail, Japan, each page a mainsail

turning, HMS Discovery, none of the rivers

of southern Italy is of any great importance.

Like birds on long-haul flight, let not seas

or deserts, cliffs or icy mountain-tops

impede you. Jews, Kabir, Kabul, Kaffir,

from up here all seems clear (all evil in the world's

ascribed to Maya or illusion), then home at last

returned from all those navigable miles

to Lichen, Linnet, Logic, London, to find

a century has passed - the forest's cleared,

the animals all bared and scorched, the gold

all brought to light. I look into the glass,

discover there myself in dense shade, deep

and shadowy as on any wooded island.

(first published in Poetry Review)