Pyrena

All the processed meals
And all the steady cravings;
All those times I’d mostly feel
My esurient sense of failing;
All these glands within me
Like silkworms masquerading,
Blind their burrow-mouths must be,
These ever-unworldly sensations;
Saliva in my pancreas
And bilious in my breathing;
Memories bladder-manacled
To strangely knotted bleachers
From where I sat once witnessing
Impassively, all my days receding;
With those who would abuse me
Only then, to obliterate
And smash these blistered benches –
Refuting my existence,
My purpose; those perpetrators,
Those missing old soul-eaters.

Incomprehensibly then,
Such totalities
And inexplicable mythologies,
I step out from shadows
Framing my toxic profligacy
With rhododendron, rose
And briar-choking ivy
Bordering my inadequacies
Made tangible from the tacit,
Born out from yellowed ivory.

How odd, I reflected
In afternoon relapses,
That our connections,
These mysteries,
Regardless neither of
Cooling distances
Nor cold absences which only show
Just how much we know
Each other’s oldest ossified routines
As we trespass through boundaries
Only then, again and kneaded again,
Transposed into our folded selves,
Our living sea.

Natasha Renewed

You were the envy of centuries,
Your love the unplundered loot
Under plum-coloured helmets
From mud-lusty Danes of Harthacnut.

You moved into a house
On a slope (made hazardous,
I imagine, by frost and ice
That yet must be a long way off
Along another horizon),
Next door to my grandmother
Who rested dutifully
In the annex
(Like an old mole
Upon your jawbone,
You resigned yourself
To her perspiring presence)
Carved from a former saloon
Where of an afternoon she snoozed
While keeping vouchsafed in a jar
Her one last sandstone tooth.
O how a home that could not exist
Yet appear with a simple veneer
Much like any other rooted
On this strange village street,
The only difference being
When you opened the door
There was nothing beyond
A jaded porch, lavender
And heather turned to dust
Along with dried
Forget-me-nots and
Compass points made moot.
You had changed your name,
I do not know why,
To Natasha, your eyes
As wide as a frontier
Where swirled surprise
And regret in those glass bowls
Once burning like calderas,
And in your hands
Scentless celeriac,
Cauliflower florets
And a head of herring.
Somewhere along the line
You bought eggs from a garage
In a parallel place and time.
At the very extremeties
Of our dormant love,
I knew too late to appreciate
That which I could never touch,
Neither ending nor the essence.

This dampening dream-like nature,
A long green duffel coat and hair
Once vibrant as sunsets
Over Mediterranean ports
And on to far Aden
And golden Sharjah,
Cities we knew a long time ago,
Now grey as a downpour in May
With a woodland scarf,
A husband – I could not meet his eyes –
Two children and my phone
Running low of charge
Like my soul, which is why
I step through my dreamcatcher
To wherever you are present,
Mapless, stateless revenant,
In a rendezvous pretences,
Preferring to be this lost,
I would rather be surrounded
By all those silent deaths above
Than tortured by the humdrum sounds
Of life removed from your love,
Modern and irrelevant.

Not The Bearer

Sometimes Love’s amphoras
Overflow, enriching
Not the bearer
But everyone below,
Until Love’s ceramic
Sun-glazed jugs
Finally become discoloured,
Emptied, and in shadow.

And although
I hide my losses well
You can always tell
When I am struggling –
I forget
To cut my toenails
And I forestall
The days of the week
Which I have changed
To names of trees
Extinct by thirty years;
Monday’s Ash,
Tuesday’s Elm,
Wednesday Oak;
Poplar’s heights
Touch Thursday’s toes,
Willow’s Friday’s river-cloak,
A weekend fit for toasting
Alder and Horse Chestnut,
Cold kidney pie
With mustard mash
I misplaced from last week’s lunches
Before returning to ash.

You can also tell
When I am unwell –
Chores do not interrupt and
You can hear the sounds
Of chaos from somewhere
Down the hall –
A thousand years of loneliness
To only end it all.

Love can pour back upwards –
See the citadel’s sorrow;
Place a lid upon the urn
And try again tomorrow.

Awdl I Wraig Pysgotwr

Cultivating seven lemon leaves of love,
She keeps their citrussy pips
For infusing our elevenses
And drizzle cake for afterwards,
Returning from the morning trip
Aboard my pre-dawn sea-breeze skip
Amid ululating waves, gigantic
Monoliths to rage and grief,
To shower away all memories
Of tarpaulin, and bountiful cod
I sell to a fishmongers’ market,
Fresh are the fish they sell
For a clamouring townsfolk
On beds of mushy peas
And curried chips.

From my time at middle-sea
My lips are akin to potato skins
Abandoned in a frozen field
After a squad of soldiers’ stampeded
Over muddy Flanders and Frisia;
I have rugged Stegosaurus toes
And a cranium bursting with
Plains of great grey
Oppressive clouds,
I am sometimes gruff
And sometimes I say nothing for days,
For who would converse
With mizzle-clouds and fish
And fog?

Yet despite these lesser facets
She is my anchor and my harbour –
Two states of material being –
A qubit, a Schrödinger love.
She is the single numeric code
For those thousands of padlocks
Encircling my rusty tortoiseshell heart;
She is both trusted compass and direction,
And when I set course
On a shipful of bones
For snowy Arctic bays and coves,
She returns me slowly, slowly,
Patiently home for cake and tea –
A blend with seven lemon leaves.


N.B The title is Welsh, ‘Ode To A Fisherman’s Wife’. I noticed the closeness to the Cornish word for Fisherman – pyskador – but I was not certain that I could approximate the Cornish title closely enough.

Lignified / Petrified

Whenever you go
Far from this billowy,
Dune-draping coast,
Maze hedgerows
In my fertile mind
Regrow.

I circumnavigate
A sculpted globe,
A bench or two,
A berbery rose.

Statuesque Eros,
Chrysanthemum prose,
Within your Sphinx
Firstly I turned
With internal rings
Into wood,
And the wood
With eternal mechanics
Turned effortlessly
And irrevocably
Into stone.

Still To Live

You touched my lips
With your fingertips,

Exquisite verisimilitude
In every moment’s potential,

Fragile as tomorrow’s moth,
Enduring as a marrow-tusk,

And softly you spoke,
Almost inaudibly,

Infinitesimally,
‘Please try and forgive

For when we do not act’.
I did not understand

As gently holding my hand
You touched the very tip

Of expectation
Spiking my existence,

Drifting into a mist
Of memory and reason.

‘I love you so,
This much you know,

But not enough
Still, to live’.

And with those words
I came to know

Crude openings of loneliness,
Closing of a season.

The Seamstress

If I love you,
I will lose you,
Should nature adhere
To the only rule
My empress knows.
This is my experience;
Behind her brows
With volcanic glows
A new statue is born,
Her odes and her notes
On how to cope
Bolted into my
Motionless
Cobalt palms.

If I love you,
I will lose you,
For so long I chose
The isolated way
To disprove such losses
Imprinted in
My fingertips;
My father,
My brothers,
My daughter,
The others;
My friends,
My purpose,
A memory of lovers,
My name
Without end;
Even her squid ink blood
And her cuttlefish bones
Say they are unable to mend
My skipping-heart stones.

If I love you,
I will lose you,
So forgive me
If sometimes
I dye my eyes and
Blind myself from love,
Hermetically sealed
In a bluebell forest
Of muted tears,
My self below;
Without these fears I am useless,
Her presence above
Keeps me in the only
Lonely mortality
I have ever known.

Softly, as soft as the first falling snow,
Softly her sadness is sewn.