Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

FIRST DATE

Walking behind you – your chignon, your tanned

forearms, your calves, your white, pleated skirt

swaying,  just the suggestion of that

bottom – into a sunlit pub on

Wenlock Edge for gin and orange and a pint;

 

watching Macbeth through inexorable

drizzle in a Shropshire market town –

‘It will be rain tonight’. ‘Let it come down’;

 

drying off in another pub, hearing

someone recite Housman loudly:

‘When smoke stood up from Ludlow…;’

 

share

LA PIETÀ

St Peter's Square, Bernini's colonnades, The Basilica 1910

St Peter's Square, Bernini's colonnades, The Basilica 1910

Bernini’s colonnades lead to the centre

of the known world – of hewn porphyry,

of granite kept in its place, of usury.

Irony turns each illuminated page,

celebrates the dissemination

of the word, funds the seeding of Europe

beyond oceans, in jungle, across pampas,

over sierra.  Only the clash of

vultures and the seas’ predictable tides

can erase carrion from argent sands.

How light the Saviour is! The Virgin seems

to hold him with such ambivalent ease:

a supplicant offering a sacrifice,

share

THE HEART’S TESTIMONY

I am a gumshoe tailing mortality,

a shammus staking out history,

death’s sleuth. The past has bequeathed itself,

its deceiving legacy of meanings.

Here is the evidence, thronging the cramped,

provincial streets – the line of a wall,

family remembrance, an ancient name.

Before terraces and villas, before

canal and railway, under pavements

and metalled roads, beneath fields is lost heathland,

a forsaken brook. There are only stones

and ghosts and the heart’s testimony – childhood,

ambition,

share

FAR ABOVE RUBIES

The silence woke her. Beyond the locked door

by now her maids should be chattering

in that harsh tongue. She went to the window.

Even the gulls on the battlements were mute.

And no guards on the ramparts, nobody

in the bailey. The straits were the colour

of the emerald at her neck – her father’s

wedding gift. A barque moved edgily

through the sands. Its pennants spoke of home.

The island’s coast was clear in the sun.

She imagined the light summer wind

stirring its fecund,

share

THE SAME SHARED GROUND

Dee Estuary from Gayton Sands. © Sylvia Selzer 2009.


Larks and herons rise from the same shared ground –

a salt-marsh sprinkled with scurvy grass

like early snow. A navigable channel

is impossibly distant, far-off as

childhood’s spring tides. Silt obscured endeavour.

Sailors and milkmaids and priests lie low

as the worked-out coal seams. Glaciers made this –

ice miles, thick as centuries, combing valleys,

teasing out hills, a slow explosion

of seas. I imagine,

share

CONFEDERATE CEMETERY, ALTON, ILLINOIS

All of the names of the dead are Celtic

or English. Most of them died – in the prison

near the river –  from typhoid rather than wounds.

Nobody set out to be cruel – farmers’

sons killing farmers’ sons. Their graveyard

above the bluffs was grassed, an obelisk built,

their names cast in bronze, bolted to limestone.

From the highway, there is no signage.

Eagles winter on the  bluffs. America’s heart

is green and fecund: a confluence –

Illinois,

share