HM

I once knew her quite well: she was lively, bright and smart
and a kindred spirit, when we were new and keen and learning every day –
in good times, ten years past – then we were friends
But in time our paths diverged, then somehow reconverged
before a pirouette or three, in the rolling tumbling motion of the waves under our feet
slid them apart again;
Now she is 32 or three, living with a husband and her infant son
and cares that edged around her open face
when I saw her earlier today, by chance.
I’d seen her grow up, she once had said;
yet I was surprised and found I could not speak –
old fractures jarred my mind and stole my words away.
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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