House of two trees

House

 

House of two trees

 

I see it every day through a car window.

It ghosts alongside like a stalled memory,

age uncertain, between drawn curtains

of teenaged birch, once autumn’s first gale

has shaved away their weak, buttery leaves.

Only its gable ends remain, a pair of

house-shaped symbols of wet, mossy stone,

linked by a low skirt of rubble, no sign of

a doorway or chimney-breast from this distance.

In each of what would’ve been its two rooms,

opportunist sycamores reach up beyond

the level of the eaves, and must form

a roof of sorts in full, late-summer leafspread,

but now join the hunched cluster of skeletons.

Sometimes there are rooks, crows, neither.

I return eventually to our home, twelve years young,

and backgrounded by those half-dozen acres

of pine, poplar, oak – their own sycamores too,

whose diaspora of seeds choke our garden

and gutters with saplings every spring.

And I can’t help wondering about time, the Earth,

the waiting game they’re playing with us,

the winning hands they’re inevitably holding.

 

first published in Liminality, issue 11, 2017

Advertisements

Up at Nancy’s

Nancy's

 

Up at Nancy’s

 

You ruminate – as the wheels spin on a mossier stretch

of the cobbles – on how they’d never build a road like this

these days, all the way up the hill to where field and moor

merge indifferently into one another, where the improved

becomes the unimproved. They wouldn’t even build a house.

 

She’ll be long dead by now, of course, so there’ll be no more

of those illicit cans of sweet stout skulking in the refrigerator,

rubbing shoulders with the UHT milk cartons; no more

coal-black surprises coiled in the plastic commode for you

to deal with. No more memories of George, ‘God rest his soul’.

 

She’ll have stopped wondering what might lurk about the upstairs,

where she last went over a decade ago, when her knees

were still behaving; stopped smiling in that borrowed way

of hers, with those flawless dentures, that surely belonged in

someone else’s mouth. They never mirrored the eyes.

 

This property would benefit from substantial modernisation

bleats the brochure from the auctioneers. The images show only

the views across the dale on a high pressure, July afternoon,

and the centuries-old defiance of the stonework. Not the interior.

No mention of the ghosts you know you’d be sharing it with.

 

 

first published in The Interpreter’s House, issue 66, 2017

Going Home

Going Home

Going Home

Falling asleep on our journey back tonight,
you didn’t see how the sky was starred with a thousand geese,
spearing off in confused fragments to all directions;
some the usual south, others west, others even north-west.

Your eyelids flickered at the horizon instead, painting yourself a brief dream,
far away from the violent uncertainty of these last three days,
the astonished air still bruised with unspent cloud, above the washed earth,
the rivers of angry traffic still fighting their way home.

 

First published in Allegro Poetry Magazine, issue 13, 2017