The Storm II

and as suddenly as it came,
the storm subsides
and calm descends like a veil
with the growing dusk
and the falling rain

outside the road is quiet
the hiss of my fire
the only voice
the material folds round me
soft tulle

and the trees sway, I hear
the curlews in the marsh
sun dapples the grass
the little brass bell
ringing clearly into summer

and the quiet white stone
stoic in Highland rain
damp leaves stick to its face
I know the words are worn,
a bride without her,

I try and remember my name
gather my husks
keep pace
with my age and its passing
with all my choice

old fool, young player
all those who came and went
the string of places
and all the work
life scored in my flesh

everything appears like June
in the city: chilly days
and downpours -
I watched the clouds today
brooding and low

a parade of faces
a knowledge of hell -
how odd it has all been
how much I know
but don't tell

life as guess, and time
as opportunity, always
going, and I am lamed
by movement
to feel is a crime

I live in cold places,
shields up, ready for blows.
I remember the happy:
up the garden path and in the door
where they knew my name

but the house is empty
and the roof is gone
miles as barrier and only
silence for answer
so many things undone

and unravelling, life scrappy
and limiting, outwith control
the constraints of the day
and the fading light -
I looked out on a garden

on my wedding morn
but I mourn
and I mourn, forlorn
in the city in all its seasons -
she would have loved my dress.

they take the light with them
when they go, one by one,
and you are left
to redeem the mind, and wish.
I live in cold spaces

with less reasons 
for the way things are.  Always
a fork in the road
and only your steps impress
as you walk on leaving them

to other destinations.  
Soon it will be autumn
and the bones of the trees 
will show.  The city will darken
and dirty, a winter of the heart, spent -

the air will turn to frosty
breath and I see the white
crust on the grass and the
blazing blue, the night
blizzard beyond our window

and the huge fire in the hearth -
I know my true dearth
and all fades and is thin.
There is no winning
against it:  what is

what went, and none
of us know, walking blind
in this place, about time,
about harm,
and no use for sorrow.

A fleeting
day in the sun.  There must be
communion beyond our bodies to
know, but we are course-grained
and too shallow.

I put it in my cupboard,
have no-one to leave it to -
no line joins my name.
I came, I wrote, I soared,
heart-first I dived, always, pure as snow.

There is a half-moon tonight
in a navy sky, clean, hanging:  ageless
continuum beyond us, where the dead go.
I am my mother's daughter:  up the garden
path and in the door, out of the rain.
Collected Works
Return to Collections all
next poem