They lie after loving in a shuttered room,

lit with an underwater vagueness,

replete with jasmine. They hear but

do not listen to the hoopoe calling

in the almond tree or the goats clinking

softly in the olive grove. They no longer

even hear the roar of the cicadas.

She lies in his arms. They sink into sleep,

lovers drowsing in a perfumed sea.

The spate plucks willows weeping from the banks

and careers them swirling, whether or not,



From the long window on the half landing, I saw,

almost as soon  as you had filled the small bird feeders

under the pine and come inside, the big beasts land

to eat the scattered seeds – three wood pigeons, two turtle doves

and a solitary magpie –  then a cat appear, the birds scramble

and you again, shooing.

From where the hawk stoops, I heard the magpie’s

irrelevant chatterings, saw a tableau of live flesh;

saw our Victorian suburb from where the airplane flies –



The tide is at its ebb. Late sun quick-silvers

the narrowed estuary,  where river and sea

conflict and oyster catchers race upstream.

An ice cream van’s jingle jangle sounds

across the almost empty sands. ‘O sole

mio’… And you are suddenly there –

aged three – digging with purpose into the dusk.

Your daughter – that longed for, longed for joy –

already strives unprompted towards the sun,

scrabbling beyond the bounds of her play mat!

‘…n’aria serena doppo na tempesta!…’

How calm you are,



The Duke owned both banks. The pleasure steamer,

stuttering, washed his clay into the current,

older than property. His oak woods moved

past us into dusk. We disembarked and

strolled between lascivious, attic blooms

to where, before the Great Hall, his Grace

had let the play be set. Like smoke on summers’

nights, the plot unwound down the lawn’s gentle slope.

The crossed, cross lovers mazed each other

but we knew how it all would end neatly –

the affluent young,



Though there is no evidence that Busby

Berkeley was a descendant of Bishop

Berkeley (in spite of the Californian

connection),  who would deny that George

were the spiritual, or, rather,

philosophical ancestor of Bill.

Bishop George Berkeley, John Smibert, circa 1729

Busby Berkeley circa 1935

Hundreds of girls’ legs opening in unison

is a pure if anachronistic

example of the Irish Divine’s hypothesis.

And Busby was keen on fountains too!

Fountain Scene from 'Footlight Parade',