I’m naked in the garden
In the dead of night
Upon a dark green carpet
Under the full moon
My full form unhidden
Moths greet my skin
A flutter of kisses
Shadows highlight my curves
Owls bear witness to my enlightenment
Fully present in the darkness
Fully grounded by the earth
I kneel at the border
The space between manicured and wild
I push my bare hands into the soil
Stirring the ancestral line within me
The rich petrichorous aroma rising
I circle around in the dirt with my fingers
Disturbing the earth, creating space
A vacant crater awaiting my trust
Patient, insulated void
Poised to receive my precious offering
Into its sunken fertility
I’m planting my vulnerability
Laying everything bare
In my midnight garden
Too dark, even for shame
The round, weighty moon
Flooding fear into submission
watching over me
Honouring my courage with light
Guiding me, releasing me into the world
Cleansing the path forward
Now is the time to be brave, to be bold
I am naked in my midnight garden
Entrusting bare courage to the earth
The burrow is safe. No-one can get me here. Here I can slumber in the illusion of peace. Let those out there continue their forage for their beliefs and satisfaction. I am content underground. The only ones who know how to find me are my kind. Our paths cross unobtrusively amid the docile creatures of our land; the beatles, the worms – and we let them be, knowing what it is to be dug up and assaulted. Their quest as simple as ours; to live. I went out there once. The hate was loud, the stares were bright. Some looked upon me as such rare a species they ought to have had their cameras out. So back to the burrow I came, hidden. Safe among my kind, nestled down with the earthworms, respected by the beatles. A tiny percentage of our world’s experience do I find, but that world is safe – as a prey animal, that is all I can pray for.
My life began in a quiet village
a river running through brimmed
with marigolds and trout, warm smell
of scones from my mother’s kitchen,
Dad’s beds of antirrhinums and lupins
planted in military rows. A garden
grown during his rare visits home.
He was married before
but barely spoke of this until after
his third glass when he fell hard
and stripped of all medals.
My life has always tasted of juniper berries.
When he didn’t come to my wedding
I drove away, washed my hands of the river,
evening air smudged with gin.
I found a new life on a fell side, built a hearth
and turned the earth like Dad taught me.
There was safety in foxes and buzzards
hunting crags, comfort in frosty nights, breezes
soft as my mother’s voice in damson trees,
the splintering sound of a beck
I’ll never shake free.
The fire is laid.
The wood is kept dry, match ready.
A full box of Swan Vestas
lies on the hearth.
The food isn’t up to much:
It’s hard to grasp
how the man who works
every day on the bog
could get so lost.
There’s no landmarks,
just sodden fog
that wets your gloves,
Wets your spirits
until you admit you’re lost.
Finding the bothy
was a matter of holding your nerve.
You couldn’t see it
but knew it was in the North Section.
you must follow the rails,
possibly the whole way round
until you hit
at beck end.
Until the yellow sign
floats from the darkness
into your hand
like an old friend.
And you know within the hour
you’ll be warm and fed.
This tree grows on my horizon
since I moved to a room with a view.
This tree has returned my gaze for years
every time I look out of my window
it appears to me.
This tree beckoned daily
when no-one else came
until one day at dawn I walked
to find my lone tree.
This tree grows around a stone wall
impossible to tell where the wall ends
and this tree begins.
Such a relief to have a wall
without fixed limits.
This tree lives apart with grace
offers branches for the birds
a home for cobwebs and their spiders
allows wire and barbs to penetrate
with open generosity.
This tree – an ancient oak – gleams
brims with endurance.
In mourning I made the visit
alone together in a first embrace –
my window staring back at me.
I woke, still tense from the night before
still an unbreachable space between us.
Kissed only by the morning sun
I sighed and waited for the pain to pass.
Then I felt this padding on my chest
but he was still sleeping, not responsible
for this clumsy kneading of my flesh.
So with stilled breath I chanced a peak
to see what was behind all the weight.
Paddling my guts with its great webbed feet
was a Booby with a javelin for a beak.
It had a shaggy hood and cold round eyes
was three foot tall in its bare blue feet
and its wings covered the bed side to side.
Fearing for our eyes I pulled up the sheet,
held it tightly over both our heads
and trembling reached out for his hand
scared that he would not respond,
but happily a warm grasp was found.
As he turned a smiling face my way
‘I’m scared of the booby,‘ I whispered
its too big, how did it get inside today?
‘A booby you say, lets see what’s going on.’
Then he quickly pushed the bedding off.
I blinked and laughed at what we saw;
a pigeon had seen our window open wide
and pigeon-like used it as a door.
for a while we just sat smiling side by side
until, ‘your imagination is quite mad’ he said
‘who else,’ he laughed, ‘in the whole wide world
would have seen a booby on their bed.’
Autumn will be my refuge; I will hide beneath crumpled leaves
and gather nuts and berries in the September sunshine
then store them in a place where only I can find them.
When Winter comes and grasps me in its icy palms
I will sleep till Snowdrops show their fragile faces
and the Crocus smiles to the awakening Spring.
Then when s Summer arrives with her cloak of green
and the scent of blossom fills the air I will awaken
to dance naked to the sway of the sweet meadow grasses.
The woman with a camera
has left, but not before
pointing to three seals
lounging on stone, which
she’d mistaken for rocky
coastline. Pewter blue sky,
thin cirrus and grey cumulus
tangle above a mountain
ridge, criss-crossing sheep
tracks, single-lane roads, conifers.
Terns angle and swoop,
calling in skittered halloos.
A heron floats past, a cruise
ship gaining speed. The tide
is coming in—high tide in
an hour, and the seals are
porpoising, playing, blowing
their snouts like laughter.
The three seals dip below
the tideline, sun-warmed
coats fizzing as they slide
into shivering random waves.
In bird’s eye view
It’s flat, wet. Tall reeds— dark seed heads moving
A place to hide, camouflaged.
Near to a vast open expanse of mud, silt and sand
A cockle picking wader’s paradise
Goose gang gathering point
A busy, buzzing bird bistro—sushi grade
All you can eat in the gourmet café.
The biggest spoon is hidden under a wing
as he pretends to be an egret
another shovels it in.
The music is chilled
In spring it is prayer bowl bittern booming,
bearded tits seem to be texting,— ping ping!
By autumn, honking and whooping
as geese grab the loungers and swans paraglide in
making waves upon landing
to ruffle snorkellers of dabbling ducks
or disturb diving cormorants
It’s the osprey that snatches the biggest fish
yet she ignores the penthouse built for chick play.
This artful angler a piscatorial predator perfectionist
prefers minibreaks to a longer stay
Air travel costs energy, yet they must pay the fees
escaping wild fire and drought
Some migrants,— others refugees
Crammed into other and smaller territories
Imaginative conservation not preservation.
An exoneration of man’s destruction
but a long way to go until—paradise regained.
begins with a hovering moment
when all is still. Even the ridge
line, tree-by-tree, shows across
the water undisturbed. Two
women skim the dark surface.
Tufted hair of dancing kelp
and wrack poke through strata
of last night’s deluge. Small
crab shells float amongst bubbles
left by the swimmers, given
the slip by their emerging soft-
shell residents during the down-
pour. A white house at the bottom
of the hill looks out at still
water, the ball on the white
boat ringing once, maybe twice
in the wake of the swimmers.
You glide to the rock, turn,
spiral, then aim for home—
two blue poles mark the end
of the pier. Find the slip with
your outstretched toes. Emerge
as the tide turns in a slow oceanic
inhale, your shoulders draped
in seaweed and flotsam, a high
tide you’ll carry home wherever you go.
Bumblebee – Drowning in blue bucket – cold stream-water I rescue him with a stick from underneath the Macrocarpa tree. I place him on the warm deck in the bright sunshine. I get honey water in a small teaspoon and feed it to him. The sun is his refuge, drying those wet wings, warming his little body, creating possibility.
I’m frightened I’m scared I’ll hide under the stairs I’ll curl in a ball, I’ll stare at the wall I’ll cover my ears but my paws don’t reach Mum will turn on the telly but I’ll still hear the screech, The crashes and bangs the strange smells and the clangs the flashes of light that give me such fright I’ll shake and I’ll cry Theres no place to lie It’s almost here and it fills me with fear Shes give me meds to calm me down But I’ll still be scared I can’t drowned out the sound Its gone on for weeks not just one day Mum says it’s just fun I say fireworks go away
At border control, I’m on the receiving end of all/I dish out. Eyes on me the size/of cuckoo eggs. They are banjaxed by the multiplicity/of the incoming ‘I’. The first test is to speak/if you can: what are you? I glide, flap, glide/a harpy trinity. Glide no.2 is a heightened, super/arpeggio-ed descant of the first. That flap/is the antsy middle child, jarring like an undercarriage/cleaving the derrières//in business class. Think of me as two dervish felines/mirroring in their mottled brown ruffs/going skite. The ke-ke-ke over kale/and maize fields is not a ventriloquist act. My whole/spiel even with the shredded violin strings/will take some convincing. The Comma/The on my passport – under distinguishing features – is the bane//of my life. I tell them I’m the spit/of my kin. I’m the urbanite, a blow-in/lodged under their mis/shapen brick sky in grey-maroon. My beak sutures/the air between the stubborn buddleia of the derelict/with its stripped back pinetums, larch/-traps, paper birch, garlic seams. Like ground alder I traverse//post codes, paralleling three sides of a cute/box hedge. I call it homey, home/spun, homing in, root canal. They call it/this carnage… it’s no coincidence. We are many,/as old as our myths. Not in the bird books/is the wrack by my upper wing coverts, going ahead as one long/harangue dialling into infinitesimal fidgets of roof/nestlings on the flat tops of tenements and far-off high//rises, bringing in their sheets at the first/whiffs of rain, not knowing, not hearing/me mew my fissure open for passing frail/constellations of starling bling. The pain/they say, is like pissing banyan/seeds. By my stripes I’ve made good/with this crochet in cerulean blue/called Flights Cancelled Today. It’s a steal…/tch, ferret your retinas for what a collective/noun for me does in the memory//of one briefly living. When the men in border control say that’s all and go home/I gloat through my orange sock-eye before I leave/an identikit Sparrowhawk, The on behalf of/us all in every windowless cell.