Park Lane Balconies
with folding doors designed
to yield to a summer's tree-lined night,
dampness drawn from the lakes
by moon-silvered shoulders
pressed into serge;
balconies glassed in, their curtains
pulled so now we cannot guess
the lavender taffeta worn inside, somebody’s eyes
drained of their startling blue, rose gold at a wrist,
someone who dines with a man introduced
at a fifties’ debutante ball, a fellow who smiled,
proposed a life where family ruled,
where colonies called; someone whose skin
grew wafer fine and creased
under a sun where diamonds
held their worth.
Home Fires Burning
circa November 11th, 1959
Three householders. Each of them likes the way
that autumn’s light will fade above the street
and it’s time to make the fire.
The grate raked out, they’ll fetch a log from the shed,
lay sticks, clank coal from the scuttle,
scratch the match to a sputter
and (these fires boxed safe within the stack’s defence),
the burst of flame will be contained, coaxed,
brought fluttering to a kind domestic life.
(All three were in those fights
of 20 years before, Tobruk, El Alamein).
There are new things now, the televisions,
the children’s homework and the Hit Parade.
And there are old things too,
the sheds, the rows of vegetables,
the well-trimmed rectangles of lawn,
the rising smoke, merging with autumn’s gloaming,
settling above the street,
that musky, smoky smell. Home fires.
Snow in Childhood
Angels are out of sorts:
It’s moulting time for them,
But we are the gainers
As plumes come tumbling
Out of a bruise-blue sky.
The children stamp with glee,
Frost on the cheeks,
Ice on the tongue:
A taste of Heaven.
Soon Earth gets the message:
Now white is the new black,
For a season at least.
And the blood races
In fingers and throbbing toes.
White fills the eye,
White stills the brain,
Except for one rebel twitch:
Hands reach out compulsively
To round a virgin snowball
And fling it hard
At giggling, cowering girls.
The print in the snow is cloven.