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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Slipping away

7 July 2011 § 7 Comments

The long farewell

She never leaves this room
But long months
She has not been here.

The girls with their practised smiles,
Brisk words and time-is-money hands
Come and go; each routine visit
The first time they’ve ever met.

And after sixty years
He’s a stranger, too;
Well-known enough
Not to be frightening,
But no longer
The man who wrote her
Two hundred letters from the war,
Gave her three babies
And the happy home her giddy girlhood
Dreams were made of;
Filled and healed her heart
A thousand times for every time
He broke it,
And in their souls’ communion
Washed away the evils
Of the world.

Now she is reborn
Each morning;
Entering anew a world she has never seen
Does not understand
And will not know tomorrow.
A slow, sad unremembering
Until she finally forgets even
To breathe.

Sonnet

9 June 2011 § 10 Comments

Sonnet

I do not speak of new love, though it be
The favourite food of poets down the years:
Small wonder, for it comes so easily –
The stolen glances, furtive kisses, tears
Of tender souls just started down the path
That leads through trial today to bright tomorrows;
The jealously and joy, regret and wrath
Of hurting hearts, long leavings and sweet sorrows.
No. I will speak of love that, summer-born,
Has lived through many winters – love grown strong,
Deep-rooted and protective as the thorn,
Enduring as the earth, sure as a song.
Such love stands when all else is overthrown.
The only certainty I’ve ever known.

 

Ensemble

25 May 2011 § 7 Comments

Playing for time

Thrown together for a weary Sunday
We dug out flute and fiddle,
Coaxed the stand from its collapsed-umbrella tangle
And played dance music
Nine times older than her ten
And my forty-something years combined.
Splitting first and second parts unselfishly,
Spinning the simple, timeless tunes
From breath and horsehair,
Varnished wood and tarnished silver,
Our thoughts as closely mingled
As our blood.

All too soon
To be in the same room
As me may be
More than she can bear.
But in all the discord
Of our crescendos, fortissimos
And silences where no one’s sure
If they should clap
Or dare to cough
The neutral notes and impartial time
Will be our arbiters;
A shared and secret language for us, free
Of should and shan’t and
Not-while-you’re-under-this-roof-my-girl.
A separate space outside of life
Where all is sweet,
And we can stay in tune.

Three chords and the truth

23 May 2011 § 6 Comments

Chapter and verse

Everything I had to know
I learned from country music:

‘bout Love and Life, man-and-wife.
Broken hearts, brand-new starts;
Getting in fights, lonely nights,
Smoke-filled bars, steel guitars;
Untamed broncs, honky-tonks,
Pickup trucks, last few bucks;
Missing you, dreams come true,
Endless highways, long hot dry days,
Tall tequilas, eighteen-wheelers,
Rivers of tears, ice-cold beers;
Cheatin’, lyin’, laughin’, cryin’,
Wantin’, choosin’, winnin’, losin’.
Long slow dances, lost romances,
Slamming doors, forever yours.
Words unspoken, promises broken,
Bridges burned, lessons learned.

Seemed everyone I heard was giving
Three–minute manuals for living.
And the only thing that I done wrong
Was thinking life was like a song.

Apologies for the radio silence: I’ve been working on a long-stalled novel for the past couple of weeks, and the blog’s taken a back seat. I wrote this silly poem this morning just as a bit of a loosener, but decided to post it to reassure my much-loved readers that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. Thank you for sticking with me; I’ll catch up with all your work during the week.

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