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Tag Archives death

FROM THE TERRACE

Begun the year of Waterloo, finished

in that of Peterloo, built on rents

and sugar, this – according to Pevsner –

‘modest’ Palladian mansion sits

on a slope, a belvedere. Mature trees

overhang the erstwhile stable block,

now a spa. The hotel is a venue

for weddings – featured in ‘Bride of the Year’ –

and funerary teas, like today’s in sun.

 

From the terrace, and over the ha-ha,

sheep graze in broad fields hedged with hawthorn,

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AN END OF INNOCENCE

What marks it is not her correct usage

on a card, unprompted, of apostrophes,

nor that we can trust her now to cycle

undistracted – even by the ice cream van’s

heralded arrival – around the park,

though intermittently out of our sight

behind mighty limes and conifers,

but, sleeping over one night – her parents

working many, many miles away –

waking, coming down, preoccupied,

confessing oh so reluctantly

to ‘a bad thought’, a terrifying

what if,

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DARK SOUL OF THE NIGHT

‘Oh the mind, mind has mountains.’ Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

Death ends but not every day dies with sleep.

Engines grind down at the darkened cross roads –

passengers tilt forward, cargoes shift –

then – headlights sweeping the room’s bare walls,

slashing the night – accelerate out of reach:

goods secured, people insouciant.

 

In the silence, in the empty stillness

that follows, I am awake, restless, waiting

then nightmared. I cannot control, resist –

whatever they are – ordinary thoughts,

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A SHIP OF FOOLS

The iron palace of electric light

steams into catastrophe and idiom,

a culture’s symbol of folly

and achievement.

The last, late sailing of the nineteenth century,

or the first of the next, it never arrives.

Unexpected, unheeded icebergs rise

from calm, dark seas.

The Captain loses face

and chooses death. The steerage,

having nothing to lose, gains nothing from death;

rushes from the vortex of the sinking ship

into frigid waters.

 

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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,

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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,

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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