Thaw

Forgotten

in locked allotments

bracing brass monkey feet

she

dug

deep

with clenched teeth

through frozen clods

customarily turning over old leaves

 until

she                                                                     slipped

and gripping glass

g

u

i

l

l

o

t

i

n

e

d

her pinkie finger tip.

.

As shock welled

to fill iced water butts

she saw her isolation reflected hard as winter

and lifting her mangled digit

in surrender

staggered bleeding to the gate.

Boxing Day Exchange

We are in the queue,

me and you, we know it too:

our front line fallen.

Best not push too hard

or we’ll be displaced

and lives could tumble.

.

If we two could pick

any darn box we desired,

ours would be blood red,

filled with comrades lost

when choices were made

by God, them or us.

.

But we can only

push on with compromised hope,

chipped swords and hearts drawn

in desperation.

Come, let us exchange

pretty distractions.

Christmas at Our House

How can we have Christmas at our house?

The rooms look like there was a riot

the table’s strewn over with gas bills

and the reindeer are all on a diet.

.

How can we have Christmas at our house?

The tree is hung over and wonky

our turkey ran off with the tinsel

and we never did order the donkey.

.

How can we have Christmas at our house?

It’s too cold to put out the fire

so Santa will struggle to reach us

and so will the heavenly choir.

.

How can we have Christmas at our house?

but wait, well then maybe we can

there’s a bucket of love up our chimney

and hugs in the fridge and the pan.

.

There’s sweet figgy pudding and music

our voices are merry and bright

we’ll hide nuts in a massive red stocking

and drink ginger wine late at night.

.

So let’s all have Christmas at our house

we’ll cook up a magical banquet

and after the games and the laughter

we’ll cuddle up under our blanket.

.

We all know the New Year is waiting

and we have to work hard and dig deep

but beautiful friendships will give us

the gift of this Christmas to keep.

Moon Man

There is a man sits in our crescent moon tonight

with jocular face and monocle.

Hunter-warriors beware,

he will rock away this precious slice of light

should you prey on easy meat from a high-handed horse.

.

There is a man sits in our crescent moon tonight

tickling xylophones with whiskery fingers.

As ice drops flicker

give time over haste to winter tunes,

to taste his gruffle-sung stories of stars and wonderment.

.

There is a man sits in our crescent moon tonight

making immortal space for us.

He cradles kindness

in extraordinarily long arms,

and gifts weary travellers with chuckling beneficence.

Sunday

Cards, did you ever stand? Or was my brilliant house of hearts,

young fumbling fingers darting in to rebuild broken parts,

a childish and imagined thing dreamed up by chilly rooms?

Do you recall the way we played on Sunday afternoons?

.

In our separate world were marbles, and a box of dominoes,

each indent to be thumbed, the numbers nought to six in rows,

each globe a tiny planet trapped, in subtle colour rolled,

all added up when I was very young and they were old.

.

And when they called me in at last, I boxed and bagged my friends,

to leave disgruntled kings and queens and keepsies in the end.

One hand still cupped around a shell in which I hear the sea,

I peer through dust of lemon cake washed down with grown-up tea.

Offering

In the old place, as you snatched your gaze away from me

I saw our futures in the furniture behind your head,

carved from antithesis, set in stone;

you rolled your eyes across an over- stretched conversation

and years flexed and flew.

.

While I pirouetted into semi dark,

you stuck your colours to the nearest domestic lamp

and remained  stoically moth-like. I hardly dare knock

at our last closed door, fearing the beat of distressed wings,

but I come with fresh baked anodyne,

and if you answer, it will make this new morning blossom.

Significance

Each hair-fine twist of a writer’s wrist
the least tiny parting of every pair of lips
may hold the latent energy of an inky thought
excavated by curiosity or care with great import

Each gardener’s slight leaning on a spade
an individual swimmer’s push through pregnant waves
may leave a lasting deep pressed indentation
enough to drive a wedge or heal a nation.

Ladder Man

My Dad was a ladder maker
constructing kit for cleaners of windows
slow and steady in his craft putting pride before profit
his ladders rested upon sills and guttering
of every discerning domestic dwelling in Derbyshire

Dad only used good unblemished wood
free from faults and knots
he did not sell steps filled with putty mix
berating those who operate quick and dirty fixes
which may betray the trust of unsuspecting customers

From my Dad I learned to discover deceit
searching cracked smiles and creaking protestations
gleaning hidden truths beneath glossed over surfaces
his lofty craft keeping my feet firmly on the ground.

Art Models

Queens of the studio
we sought the other’s company
time within the confines
of our role to reflect
on limited life chances

Paid a pittance we posed
in perfect stillness
projections of abashed love
brushed into our lives
by twelve anxious teenagers

They painted our ordinary beauty
over again every day, beaten by
the pink plait which wound like
laughter down her strong back
carving fold and curve

Our granite lives outside
were hacked in sharp relief
to this academic canvas
where promises were outlined
to be smudged at a later sitting.