Connections


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.

Blue Horse of Morning


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.

Brazen Marriage


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.

Sixteen, Seventeen


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.

Night Terrors


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.

The Tractor Driver


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.

Shamanka


              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.

The Swimming Dreams


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.

Tenth century pagan lady buried with goods and charms on the Christian isle of St. Patrick


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.