Hazy memories out of focus, raindrop smeared,
inhabited, revisited, altered by each access;
or a shock in time, seen once, new-needle fresh,
sparked by reverie or random intervention.

Is there authenticity; utility; a future place:

For fragile faded snapshot childhood moments?
Or chord sequences, embedded as identity emerged?
Or initiations, each reeling fumbling vivid first?
Or the perception that nothing’s out of reach?

Or infertile eggs, futile seeds of unresolved potential?
Or familiar old ideas that outlived their time?
Or curious reminders of turns not taken,
forks not followed, on an under-weighted path:

A shaky frame of hollow counter-facts?

Are they touchstones for family, kin and partners,
sharing lives and blood and blending DNA?
For our children who’ve grown wilful, standalone?
For the other vital people who informed each stage?

I knew many who now lie cold, bleached pale –
and few other threads have not been snapped
or lost in spreading time and welling tides of life,
links separated by exigency and not renewed –

And I ask, where are they now? And how?

While outside, above, windsped, hastened to oblivion,
sunlight’s shadow flits across the tower:
a fragment or a harbinger? Of a deeper storm,
lowering, looming, racking, darkening….

Distorted images

Perception is reality. Indeed??!
Who will see beyond
a brusque because tenuous masculinity
or tentatively passing femininity,
contorted to conform,
to fit compounded lives into a frame,
a work of rules for living in?

Such progress made, but so much remains undone.
We are still adrift from harmony, still
straitened by striving for stability and
trying tirelessly to earn an inch of traction,
leaving little room to dream of leverage
for the last and bravest stepping out
from an airless past towards equality.

Martin Niemöller spoke so well.

Now will we speak? Or who speaks for us,
surrounded by our complex fear?
Are we frightened of our fears?
Or of ourselves, our difference?
Or stark disclosure? Of uncertainty,
Of not knowing home, of nowhere to belong?
Or of a nameless other? In irony.

Must we be forever wary, full of cortisol
and mindfulness of risk? Tholing and brave-facing
covert discrimination, overt abuse,
irrational ignorance, banal and fundamental;
even begging No, No No, No against the blade
slid blindly in the thigh or in the guts,
by the station, walking home at 5am?

Ashridge, May

To wander here and now carefree with shaded eyes
along the avenue – directed, firm and almost straight –
in cool air, north breeze air, morning air, unbeaten by the day.

To turn aside and linger caution-slow
under the spreading broadleaf canopy,
lightning-struck, storm-thinned, newly unfolded
and side-lit from hazy patchwork groves,
treading through leaf-litter fallen
deep and rich with years, a place

on the dropping edge of history,
the cusp of learning, being and experience.
To be broken-strapped but not dismayed,
stopped wide-eyed to glimpse
the fallow herd across the wind, shadows
through shadow as it distances away.

The forest needs no explanation:
its stems and seeds entwined in those who wandered,
its stillness borne away by those who’d hear….