Poetry

Vespers

Wasp clings to a mountain cairn
collecting silver
droplets
from the mist.

We camped here once,
my dad and I;
son and father, mountain top,
washed in starlight on the cairn.

Were we collecting silver then?

Now the only stars
have gathered on the wasp;
constellated queens and kings
and the bone-white gaze of jesters.

The chapels are in disrepair,
Venus washed out by the mist.
My company; a dying wasp
and the wind that sings his vespers.


The Longest Work

I gather limbs of oak and alder,
lash them tight with marsh reeds
then begin the longest work
of holding up the frame.
Tilted at an oblique angle
in the darkest stretch of forest;
not a frame for any vine,
but a trellis
for spirits to climb.


Being Breathed

I watch my son
breathing in his sleep,
kept alive
and kept alive
by a presence all about us,
filling up his little lungs,
flowing steady through his blood,
a steady gift,
steady given,
every moment
of my life
and his.


Green Gold Light

I’m a hunter for the green gold light
that spills through leaves,
plunges through rivers,
draping itself in the eddies of boulders
and the gliding shadows of clover,
bursting out in veins of shimmering crystal
and shoals of green-gold salmon,
brushing their translucent bellies
over the branches, leaves and cheeks
of all the lifted faces
swaying in their graces.


The Stillness Beyond the Wall

There I stood upon the crag,
head bowed to buried queens,
when on the reaching winter wind
came the braying of a stag.

Staring down from on the hill
without a turn, without a start,
his body still as sleeping stones,
his eyes an arrow in the heart.

There we stood in ancient light,
the day moon hidden now from sight,
the winter sun still hanging low,
making shadows with the crags,
painting faces on the stones,
faces witnessed once by kings,
kings with faces carved in stone,
touched by self-same winter sun.

Gone the meadows.
Gone the oaks.
Gone the salmon in the streams.
Gone the footprints of the wolves,
gone their hackled hoar-frost dreams.

Then the stag turned his head
to where a forlorn farmhouse stood,
banked by a meagre copse of pine
where a three-finned tower milled the wind.

Not a single road.
Not a single wire.
Not a single sign of smoking fire.

Only stillness;
a watching man,
a watching stag.