You and I with fifty valentines and

February’s sun pale on the glass!

We count the camellia’s crimson blooms –

and remember, last summer, our grandchild

shivering with ecstasy the day

she chased her daddy with the garden hose.

From here, the house seems sentient, our

remembrancer – the lawns and borders and

parts of neighbours’ houses an urban landscape.

In this wooden hexagon – a half-glazed

gazebo, its blind back turned to a high

Victorian wall festooned with ivy

and clematis –



We were besieged: iced winds from barren grounds,

then snow hushed down. That night, she screamed – breaking

her wedding china piece by piece. A car

slowed in the muffled street. The deranged have

no dignity or beauty but the trick

of absolute exclusion – only snow prints

left, scattered porcelain and their caged birds

swaggering in the locked house filling with dark.

He waited – for who would anticipate

life’s accidents, mysteries, in rooms furnished

with grace and littered with utensils

of barbarism?



Beyond the furthest goalpost, at the edge

of the wood where smokers hid, was a pond

clogged with glue tins, an Asda trolley and,

sometimes, discarded tasks – notes, a poem.

In every sense, it was out of bounds.

I was one of a group of subversives,

teaching childhood and choice in a land

of deference and property. We would

measure success anecdotally, ignoring

statistics. Now that we have lost the past,

I believe that the children must make

the revolution.





When swifts no longer sickle the twilight

and gulls beat inland, when clouds pass like

drift ice and a reaper’s moon is rising

like a blooded eye, leaves spiral almost

like tears. In the unlit house, a voice murmurs.




At flood tide, winds off the waters abuse

the cherry tree and batter the fences.

Just out of hearing, the rolling fathoms calm

to torn branches, occasional ice and

the slow intimation of landfall.



She crouches slightly to see the horses –

a grey and a bay – through the wire fence.

They are eating windfalls of sweet chestnuts.

She watches them fully open the cupules

with their teeth then tongues to eat the nuts.

They notice her, feel safe to approach.

She is not much bigger than either of

their heads. Each half a ton, they walk with the grace

and circumspection of fifty million years.

They bend their heads towards her. Fearlessly,