Testing times

14 September 2011 § 9 Comments

Blood work

Someone in a lab
Is looking through a lens
At a smear of blood and lymph.
An anonymous clutch
Of nameless cells
In search of an identity.

A blackthorn snapped off
And driven deep,
Bee-sting, dog-bite,
Barbed-wire tear, unseen blow –
Any of the litany
Of injury attending dogs like him
(Long on legs, short on brain)
Might have forced the flesh to swell
Into the hen’s egg
That now lurks, submarine-sinister
Beneath his velvet skin.

Or something else:

That single drop
From the tablespoonful the syringe drew off
Will tell all.

So we await the blood-work
Wondering what they’ll find
And how much we stand to lose.

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Stepping out

4 April 2011 § 8 Comments

Doing the loco motion

Every step
Is a controlled fall;

For that moment –
So instantly-over we never see it –
We let go,
Give in to gravity
And hurl ourselves
A few inches towards the earth

The plunge arrested
By an unthinking foot
Obeying its lifelong training
And being in the right
(or left)
Place exactly when it should be.

Some days I wish
I could remain
In full control
Maintain a perfect balance;
Never know the wide-eyed lurch,
The will-I-won’t-I fear
Of leaning just too far,
Going off the edge.

But the price would be
Immobility

And so today
I chose to walk once more,
To trust the ground to take my weight
And unseen hands to catch me.

Night vision

13 February 2011 § 6 Comments

Night Vision

Beneath a waxing moon
And Orion like seven silver nails
Hammered into heaven,
The tawny owls’ hollow fluting,
Lonely as train whistles in the dark,
Reached me from the shadowed woods
And I smiled:
As a child
My bedtime prayer
Was for protection
From their forebears
Who haunted the beeches behind the house.
And I wished the new-hatched brood of terrors
Winging through my wide-eyed nights
Were so easily reduced
To harmless noises on the wind.

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