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A SORT OF KADDISH

Today, entering the house from the garden,

I turned, involuntarily, to look back,

but saw nothing more than what is always there,

small rooms of eclectic evergreens – olive,

camellia, rhododendron, bay –

and, for some reason, I thought of my father

dead for almost as long as I have lived.

 

I have shuffled what I know of him

like a pack of cards in a game of patience

for a lifetime – would he approve, be proud,

that twenty six year old secular Jew

from North West London,

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FROM A BALCONY

A flock of goosanders fishes in the Straits,

as ubiquitous oyster catchers whistle

on the shore. In the early evening

the air about our balcony throngs

with birds – swallows whispering, swifts screeching,

two ring-necked doves cooing in the clematis,

and a small flock of sparrows chattering

below – as the last sun shades the mountains

opposite. By night three fishermen

make their profaning way along the pier

with swaying torches. The seeming darkness

above the peaks is thronged with unnamed stars

we cannot see,

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THE MOLD CAPE

In what is now the back garden of a house –

a between-the-wars semi – in Mold, a town

in North East Wales, a gang of labourers,

one hundred and seventy years ago,

hired to demolish a burial mound –

known as Bryn yr Ellyllon, Goblin’s Hill –

uncovered what seemed to be small sheets of brass

on a small, fragmentary skeleton.

Cleaned, fitted together, a local scholar

declared them a Bronze Age cape of gold,

perhaps made to fit a royal child.

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SERMON ON THE MOUNT

The plaque has been placed high onto the front wall

of a terraced house in the street next to ours –

and is, in effect, a terracotta tile,

roughly a foot-and-a half by a foot,

with a raised border, and lettering

and numerals probably executed

by a gravestone mason, who maybe lived there.

The date inscribed is 1872 –

the words, first in English and then in Welsh,

‘Blessed are the meek. Matthew V.v’.

 

When the railways came in the 1850s

bringing the London-Holyhead line,

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NEXT YEAR

Wild bees have occupied the swifts’ nesting box

sparrows colonised last spring and summer.

The sun casts fleeting, waltzing shadows

on the white walls of the house – males and queens

at their love-making. A carrion crow

with a chunk of bread in its machined beak

alights on the rim of the bird bath

as if from some dark play. It dunks the bread.

Over in the west the sky is ivory

through a break in the clouds. A box, and a bath,

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THE NETHER PORTAL

Fifty years ago the garden of what is now

our house was five times its present size –

a garden that had been a field, and a heath.

A builder turned an orchard, borders

and most of a lawn into three modern

terraced houses and eight lock-up garages.

Part of what remained of the lawn was a dump.

 

Occasionally odd things still turn up –

like bits clinker, rusted iron, and, today,

a small piece of coal, of anthracite,

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