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Not the Michelin two star French restaurant

in the Kentish High Weald, nor the West Coast

jazz saxophonist who sessioned with Brubeck,

but the British woodland wild flower, or weed.


There are two definitions of ‘weed’ –

the official: a wild plant growing

where it is not wanted; and mine: a plant

whose existence is not dependent,

in any way, on the whim of humankind.


Herb Robert – aka Red Robin –

is a wild and elegant geranium,



Bought for the Coronation,  our first TV

had a nine inch screen. It stood in a corner

of the front room. My grandmother, who

had outlived two husbands, two World Wars,

and once had tea with Buffalo Bill,

thought that those appearing on ‘the box’

could see those watching, so was discerning

about whom she chose to watch, and when.


She particularly liked ‘What’s My Line?’, an import

from America, in which a panel

of four TV ‘personalities’



For Evie Chapman


She fetches me a mermaid’s purse she has found

among the seaweed where the sand

meets the mound of pebbles the waves have built

and rebuilt over the centuries.

The small black pouch, with tendrils like broken straps

and firm as dried leather, is an empty

egg case, from which a shark or a ray hatched

on the seabed, probably between here

and Ireland. Tides detached and chance brought

this empty womb,



‘…mourning and sorrow shall end,
when I return to Jerusalem…’

Mediaeval Jewish Prayer


‘We suffer from an incurable malady: Hope.’

Mahmoud Darwish


On a land mass that is the size of landlocked

Rutland, the smallest county in England,

Gaza, the Earth’s third most populated

polity, has two small rivers  and a hill.

Its city, four thousand years ago,

was the site of a Pharaonic fortress.




From the kitchen door of the holiday let,

down the hill, over roof tops, on a clear day,

are the summits of the mainland’s mountains;

from the front door the gaol’s stone grey massif;

above the cottage’s small courtyard,

where the privy was and now are festive lights

and a hot tub burbling, is a square of sky.


Around the corner in Steeple Lane

high in the prison wall is a door,

with rivets either side to hold the scaffold

when it was needed.



Only the highest tides reach this small island’s

sandstone rocks. A collar of flaxen sand

surrounds it. A quarter of a mile north

is Middle Eye. A hundred yards further

is Hilbre, habitation of hermits,

custom’s officers, weather stations.

These three are rugged, stony outcrops

in the mouth of the estuary.


Leaving West Kirby’s suburban promenade,

we had walked, at low water, to Little Eye

across the Dee’s hard, striated sands.

Westward is Wales, and the redundant lighthouse

at Point of Ayr,