With apologies to all the poets who were given a letter from the end of the alphabet to tinker with. It’s been a bit like reading round the class at school. Or, as it was in the unreformed 1950s when we all sat in alphabetical order.
By the time it’s your turn you’ve forgotten why you were in the queue .
When all this is over, said the weaver,
I’ll weave you an Indian summer.
Jacquard curtains of forget-me-not blue,
green damask tablecloths spread with flowers.
I’ll plant rows of mulberry trees and breed
silk worms, weave satin and lace bridal gowns
instead of silk shrouds. When I’m free to see
the ancient barrows on the furrowed brow
I’ll listen for the song of Nightingales
in empty skies of bleached white cotton sheets.
Seeking the silenced voice as I unpick
lines from lips to find love among the ruins,
touch hidden words woven in tapestries
where wefts of truth cover a warp of lies.
When this is over
Nothing is ever over.
Events roll out of the night of the past
collide like snooker balls or Black Holes;
rebound and ricochet; altered, rumble on
to make their next encounter.
They leave us older, occasionally wiser.
But wisdom peels like wallpaper, otherwise
we’d all be hovering about as Archangels.
What we seem to learn least well is how we never learn.
For all the tears and fears, we opt to stay perpetual pupils,
truants on Double History day, wide-eyed and barefoot
because sometimes, suffering and joy are inextricable
and dangerous innocence is the price we pay for ecstasy.
Last night, the Hubble Telescope was 30.
An aged astronaut talked us through a photograph
of Deep Time; a proto-galaxy hanging in the dark
a foetus in the womb of space, about to roll
out of the night of the past.
Nothing is ever
When this is all over, said the widow,
I won’t sit with mandarins in my son’s fruit bowl
and chat while he counts potatoes.
I won’t Zoom away from his kitchen
because my dandelion soup
Nor will I tramp patterns into unmown grass
or bang drain-holes into a seized-up wheelbarrow.
I won’t clear the shed of broken umbrellas
so I can train peas and beans
up their spokes.
When this is all over, said the widow, I’ll sit down
and scroll through Netflix. Read books about
derring-do on mountains. Tune in
to Private Passions.
a vicarious life
Just one more day of X,Y and Z, and then they’re all off for judging.