to notice

On a close and cloudy morning, the bees still come:
The stems of lavender fall one way, cascading to the left.
The yellow fir spreads otherwise around, low-set but prominent;
That small red rosebush still survives, reaching for the light…
The flagstone slabs are wet from rain and water overflows the butt;
Those terracotta pots are healthy – your strawberries bear a second crop.
To be aware is little yet it touches everything; this is a good morning.

The Village, Thursday 9am

At first
She turns the corner running, a teenager sporting hurry
He stands entranced, pushing at his screen (one finger at a time)
They walk behind my back, while I am cautious at the ATM

In the pharmacy
I eschew a basket, and still fumble at the shelves
beside him who’s wanting the same space;
I ask for what I want and it turns out better than ok
(as the young assistant shirks her duty
laying stresses on her colleague,
with whom I frankly empathise)

Outside
He loiters for the trucks to come / and he waits for a car
They read or watch beside their coffee-centred tables
(sat apart on seats which may be barely dry)
She speaks to me in passing, sharing thoughts about the weather
And they head on together, conversing about their job

In the verge
Mushrooms have grown saucer-wide, after last night’s rain
near someone’s, no-one’s, absurdly disposable cup;
He is roadside brambling, slightly stooped, alone
Three women wander, gabbling, looking for Macbeth

Down the road
A second runner passes: she is properly athletic, head-up shoulders-back
A red-haired woman walks smartly, with three children –
the younger ones skipping their delight,
the older girl clasping her mother’s hand –
He goes ready towards his tennis lesson
Her backpack is slung up tight (I can only speculate…)
He locks the gate, leaving the allotments
She carries shopping bags with purpose

Crossing over
Another looks at me askance:
we are both older than we seem at first, and hurrying;
I have been longer than I thought
so I continue home, to grind my coffee beans

time

I have felt the flighting spirit close,
brought to bay and strapped onto your turning cross
to be filtered clean;
while my simple sequences collapsed
to pass their fitting through your gauge,
flickering expunged…

Although I had been sentenced when times changed,
to official mercy, then also to redemption,
I could still draw breath –
with no direction and no home, only the moment, only measures,
turning notch by notch and prong and hidden tooth by gear – 
but degree upon degree, we spent our seconds chasing minutes
heedless of your basalt face that lowers, hidden
over all our heads…

Meantime: the glass drains empty, batteries fall flat
while inner pressure will increase, inexorably – until
all my dreams are fled
(and hopes and fantasies and otherness)
just as your final persevering chase must find me,
naked and alone

Voices

The first part of me I’d recognised went hungry
while my bowels grew fat and soft
and legs and shoulders stiffened towards dust
as I committed fantasies, expecting different outcomes
by recycling inputs through unaltered settings…

But no matter what the physical becomes
I have embraced those siren voices in my head
and called them “me” or “mine” or “self”:
the raging storms of character – insistent, never still –
howling auguries at volumes not wholly safe for work
or much of anywhere, but which would not be denied…

Was it any wonder you were startled by their full array?
A dawn barrage (and unopposed) of solitary comments
scathing on and from the wreckage of my life
that I have not quite admitted yet, as I go on
squeezing out identity along life’s muddy cut…

the worm

As the teredo tunnels in, destroying for its life,
its warm and fertile purpose ending in itself;
so the worm of doubt lives in my ear and burrows through:
my intimate.

The worm has been fine-tuned by open source,
placed expertly as if by one who knew the weakness
to exploit, and how;  to feed its fill on friendship’s tap
to sow its seed in passing, that slithers into life
to parasite poor words that cannot be unheard, still less unsaid
and to distort the silence of dissent, so meaning is replaced by any sound;

Meanwhile outside, its hackles raised, the world turns upside down…

As doubt racks up its toll of days, its mire of debt
that cannot be repaid, becoming part of us,
its tinder never dried in drought or fire-burned to renew;
so iron anchors rust, transformed into dead-weights
our ballast shifts, the keel lies skew, the compass falsifies
and shock absorbers serve to amplify what anyone can hear:

Immunity has turned, there is no truth, no-one is true
once trust has been denied –
and we are all displaced, to undermine, to hollow out;
still self-obsessed.

Breathe

In for five, out for seven: Slow down!
in for five, out for seven: slower
in for five, out for seven: deeply, empty
in for five, out for seven: empty, reflex
in for five, out for seven:
as one by one the shutters fall, the diodes dim,
conductors cool and gateways haze together;
as my fears and empathies alike relax
and consciousness lies quiet,
suspended in the moment of repair…

windmill

Landmarked in a place we’d never seen
we walked along the dike, across the marsh,
heads down and wishing we could huddle
against the buffeting of the endless wind
that chased its shadows in the reeds
bending, bowing, circling in their beds
until it hustled out across the sea –
to places where our dreams had been…

Before we found a shelter in the sails
that had driven down the grinding stones –
now opened, trusted to receive
an unexpected vital moment’s strike:
a moment, even two, of clarity and warmth 
to mark a passage through life’s mud and salt;
so we can imagine how to live, into a future
different from the past.

four columns, squared

And you said you knew / how the supports all worked / though they were engineered and unobtrusive

You bastard!  How you indulged your agony / of  misplaced confidence, at best / or a flow of fresh mendacity, stinking in the sun / spilling over purpose, one step off the curve / a vision out of focus, lacking depth of field…

as you observed, in cold and brittle politesse / in baffled, bunkered equanimity – ha! –

the columns leaning out, not in / splayed by their own weight / across each other’s lines / before the roof was even raised / to welcome innocents abroad / who’d come to worship here, and play –
let alone the masterpiece / we could have made inside….

But you said you knew / how the support would work / within the frame I’d barely found.
You bastard!  Who will build the shelter now / in praise of openness?