If I am aware, then the notes come; I hear them - I suppose as bats do or the broken-coated hound, whose eyes filter something of earth's nature, whose eyes change as he listens elsewhere. Do you hear then? I ask him. Is it Welsh rain coming to the garden, or something other? I only hear it through my hair, the tips drink sound from silence. Is this nectar then? I imagine myself the humming bird, how this unchecked greenness would offer hibiscus in the dog-rose, the wild sweetness of some alien yellow juice within the needled gooseberry or the stony pear. The curlew bounces his song across the distance. The hairs on my arm shudder with wind. My dog hackles uneasy, he thinks I am too near to the raven as it rises, croaking, too near to the muttering self-involved tree experimenting its blossom beyond us. No, I say. Don't you see it? The buzzard disturbs us, he is painting a circle such as the mouth of a net, above us. We are all in it. All.
If I came to you now on the blue horse of morning how I would cackle the street bells and set the ghosts groaning out of the light. I could come as Cloud-Woman-Riding shape myself into a message over your roof. Look, it is dawn, the winter is over, wanting is finished. I have galloped the night-iron out of our hooves. Accept this silver: four bright moony hoops flung over the pole. I could be cool, responding to weathermen's turqoise oracles, the blue as the inside flame is blue. You would know me as Ocean, lapping your island back, fire-blue tiding up through your heels to break kisses sparks over your neck, leave wet shadows. Or choosing the warmth of lapis lazuli I would enter your dark troubled sleep and thief-silent, go down to the place where the black root twists darkness into your dreams. Spreading the rustle of indigo skirts I would open your mouth with my long scented fingers and place the sun on your tongue.
After their love had brimmed the bed and they had floated - dragonflies drowned in their own heady amber - after he drowsed into the tasselled cambric, her safe breasts soft to his nuzzle and her long luxury of pliant bone unrolled and owned by his momentary hands: while he lay, a sleek curl in her stroking, netting fingers a cat cradled, purring -- afterwards, she left him; slipped naked out of the sheets to kneel on the Chinese ottoman under the window, crushing dragon blooms of silk, fades of mandarin blossom, the studding of her spine almost a path or steps into the outside leaves, ash keys for pendant earrings. On the other side of the glass she watches the angels cluster, drift slowly down the hedgerow, through dusk or moonlight; their feet not quite touching - or risking - the sharpness of quickthorn, mealy plum. Recently their silvers have flushed to a faint hectic warmth and one amongst them glistens, has taken the tint of soft metal, red-gold or bronze. That was after she had lain differently, her legs gentle hooks, the scarp of her husband's shoulders a steep rapturous falling. This angel: his palms push down the light, his half-skirts rustle impatiently, his penis - meek yet - clapped his vast and brazen wings the whole garden would shimmer and dance: the wind of his feathers husking through oboes, charming snakes. At his wish, English trees would fruit with figs and pomegranates, and the little foxes find a sudden banquet of honeyed grapes to lick. The kingfishers, bird and birdwife, would burn blue flame down the darts of his eyes. Turning back to the bed she sees her husband's body lying open. Trailing her hands through the texture of his skin she feels his skin flow under and round her like waters, senses its tensions, muscular wave motions. Swimming in him, she lets him close over her head, take her breathless, air becoming wine. Watching her, his eyes go dark as water from earth-deep: as if she leaned into his eyes, the light behind her. His body warms her garden scents and rain; as her reflection fades from the glass.
Times, they fill the spacious limits of the house trial running the presences they almost have. Such sorceresses, these daughters. They shape-shift: bird-girls go snakey, eyes sly-lidded, insect lips, their music cackling the grey weary dust from the mortar, breaking the bovine cups and inherited china with their flung hair's coronal their skirt's strident electricity. The kitchen fizzes. The whole groaning window puffs out its panes to explosion and I craning outward to night-sky see nothing - no dancing daughters - only two silent sharp lights that speed vertical urgent, North to magnetic South, with no whisper to mend the shocked garden. Pale times, I have seen them slide under doors in etiolated shadows, old white shoe prints stepped out flat and exhausted. And times of such brittle containments of sorrow: thin glass, thin as the high searing note stroked from the wineglass rim, glass thin as the water-spider-house. Water-times when they lay heads down in the tide's blue water-colour wash. Such times acceleration. Made time and spare time they have set the windmills humming with their glances, sewn energy stitch by stitch into their sculptured horoscopic coats. They are such wonders. They are women.
His head thrown back, Dreams rattle him, words babble out in foreignness, as if this juddering sleep has dumbed his mother-tongue. I watch him under moonlight: will this new dream tilt him into flickering shadow dioramas, where his open eyes see demons and genies that hop their mocks and cold-sweat menaces across his gentle sky-filled walls? His dreams roam unsafe fields. He dreams aloneness, dreams how slight he is, blown winter-leaf within the cyclone. He dreams love and a dead child on the bleak rib of the night-mountain, comes pattering down the familiar corridor between sleeps to comfort me; knows my grey silk grief within his curving arm. We discuss his visions of heaven. He sees spirits ascending into further and higher wheels of fiery light. Sometimes so casually he tells me supernatural facts I believe he owns some dolphin knowledge, gift or angelic grace, prevision. Blue, beautiful sky, this heatwave morning mayday drowned in pollen. We mark again the falling river level, count the stones new glazed by solar fire. I dream torrential fearful rains. I dream of dust and towering sand-sculptures mimicing the trees. I dream your mountain sliding deeper into unrimmed darkness, with no eternal ringing moon to sign its way. I dream of how the mountain's mute stone arms were cradled round its burden. I dream of how you call me, call me - We are running through the black dissolving night, the wind is dragon's breath, the track to home becoming molten as we pass.
This is the worst phase of the ploughing; from the huge field's centre he can see only endless acres of cut brown earth and blackened stubble. The green line of trees the hills and hedges are out of sight, he is alone, small as a toy on the rolling furrows, with only the sky to look at. And that lies too close, enclosing him in a stifling upturned bowl of blue hammered pewter, its undulate rim defining the curve of the world. His engine beats at the silence, reverberates under him, beats at the drum of the cut brown earth. This was yesterday and is tomorrow on a thousand more acres. It is the season of blackened stubble. He goes home in darkness, headlights shaping the lane, bleaching rabbits, a cat or two. The day's work over, yet still the pulse of the tractor shakes in his hand. His fist tremble, he sees new cuts, scabbed red lines over his knuckles, the marks of another, small unimportant accident. Nothing much - but he can't remember it happening nor the sting of the pain. His hands are telling him something. He finds inexplicable bruises, black pinched nails, little scratches, the purple-brown lice of blisters. Day after day his big strong hands show him the marks of his isolation, his tiredness and boredom. But it's a living, these hard waking hours spent unaware as a sleep-walker making his rounds. It's a job - and there's a hundred men who would take his place in the huge field, in any season.
Under the acrid smoke the dreams were leaping and binding, trailing their sensuous breath as watered silk: scarved wolf in the grey, hackled fox, owl-shadow, secret oblique lynx; all gathering. White moon-face, listening slant, she entices the drum to enter the slender bowl of her bones; strong thighs gripping the bucking music, the rattle of nerves. To the cage of her flickering wrist the leopard is called from the shadows. I swear! her arms grew furred and maculate as she began the ascension: going out with the smoke through the space of the pole star, into the void. If I lost you I would sing the drum, stretch naked for great mottled cats to inhabit my skin; let my eyes fold inward. I'd find you, hold: though the spirits were dancing the feast of your soul, I would journey the shallow entrancing skies with feather bone fire -- bring you back home.
Falling to sleep through the day's fractures the slope of your back turned away, white spine fragile calcined road to a stone arena; harsh pallors of sand bury my saying mouth, stay my hands fretful metronome - I am drowning through dust to green water swells, my dress bells out and greenwhite legs come frog-open, float loose over reaching river foliage of weeds. My shoes kick from my heels and fall slow twostep as snakefish flick my opal skin with little lips that kiss and kiss. I laze in the disk of the skirt's rosette; hang fire. Or when small hours eat the potency of fear and grow, grin feverish teeth in shadow, come leaking out of the vulpine pockets, pig-wallets, the wasp-waist keyholes of the boxes; when you are hollow, arid weight, stripped mountain - then I dream of a chaos of women shining with water and steam, round deep pool jostling, choppy, stones flooded and night air ringing; strong women - long breasts, otter hair, wet sexes tendrilled watercress. I dive through the wild mouth, go down to the dark trailing peacock cirrus. Seasons of ash and drought. We share a delicacy of touch, take infinite care as we wake our day's landscape: this is the kingdom of today; in the kingdom is a city, in the city is a garden, in the garden of dry flowers lies a well, within the liquid well, the dream of kingdom lies. Other nights of broken sleep and failed desire the water is nearly breathless. I am fathoms deep, horizontal, calm, arms crossed, palm to naked shoulder, thighs bound down by a cold shell-spiral. Dim spacious sea; my hair rolls away from me ribboning as black lace, or blood ebbing slowly away through the tide.
Stormwife - My name the crew called when the wind began to unfasten our hold on the waves, my name, carrying their prayers in a motley bag of snakes and crosses, ravens and bells. My name invoking Mananan to bring his mist and cover our wake, grant safe harbour and home. Sixteen, and I'd been on the ships a lifetime. These three green glass beads at my throat were a gift from a dark Egyptian whose lips discovered the inside of my arm was a white plain of desire. They were the first. Year by year north into ice, south for the warmth, wine and oil to trade in the markets, blue foreign seas marked by the turqoise twist of a glass flower, a spiral of lapis, sometimes a handful of amber. Season by season my necklace becoming a harvest rich enough for an heirloom. At night, I tested the names of the beads on my tongue: Anna, Rhiannon, Arinjborg ... all my future daughters. My sons slipped away like seals in the tide, child by child, hardly a grown man amongst them: Frey, Cedric, Thomas, Finn, Shony ... All gone to swords and water, fire and frost. And my one frail girl who lay a small month in my arms, until the white crows came flying down for her; their wings lifting her out of the land into light. Voyage after voyage and always returning, the island draws me back like a child still tied to its mother. Here, on the cliff, wind kindles my hair, blurs my eyes to the distance: This air is my breath, these seasounds in the rocks are my own heartbeat - Soon I shall journey into the Otherworld; I have told the priest I am taking gifts for my daughter: the cooking spit and the shears I never used, who else should have them? Or the charm for fertility, the snake-stone, the sharp silvered knives worn to my hand. And my necklace. Each bead a prayer to the Gods who come crowding in on the ebbing tide: Bring me to her - jet and amber, faience and flowered blue glass.