POEMS




MILK

A mother sits bare-buttocked in a den
awaiting her man’s return
with patient hunger,
giving suck to a naked baby.
She loves him with her eyes,
knowing no words,
and warms him with her hands
in the prehistoric cold.

In a tapestried castle
a full-bosomed girl
feeds another’s thriving child.
She looks at her with sad eyes
and tries to love her,
while her own baby cries thinly
in a stranger’s arms,
sucking at a milky rag,
stubbornly alive.

Squatting in the hot dust,
another woman holds her child
swollen-bellied at her empty breast
and soothes him with a sad song,
watching him die
who has never really lived.

And my baby lies on my arm,
his clear blue eyes smiling as he feeds.
His body is round and firm
and his hand on my breast
is love.

The milk of mother-love
flows down the years
in den and castle and field –
we add our own small drop,
my son and I.


Cold

Snow cowers in forgotten corners,
shuddering in the cold glare of the sun,
shrinking back into the diminishing shadow of the wall,
greying with dust,
sliding slowly into slush.

Frost clings to the windows,
grasping for holds on the glass,
slipping, pushing,
trickling in rivulets to the streaked sills.

The grey, lowering clouds are tinged with pale orange -
steady gleams of light reflect dully on the sluggish water -
creeping fingers of wind clutch at faces,
coldly caressing,
and the air gasps with cold.

Blushing still from the sunrise,
the white mists flee to the dim horizon,
leaving in their wake
lonely wisps
which wander forlornly over the stiff grass,
flitting between the long shadows.
They circle tree-trunks,
fingering the rough bark,
dip and kiss the frosted ground,
then sweep out over the icy water.

And a man
striding along the road,
clutches with numbed fingers his flying scarf,
watches his breath
heavy on the shivering air,
and curses loudly at the cold.

ALONE

The world
is a cold and empty place
when you’re on your own -
each wind that comes
blows into your heart and
through all the hollows
of your mind.

Four hundred die
in a hurricane
five on a motorway,
no-one really cares -
each lonely death echoes
round the loneliness
in your mind.

Someone
has to care enough
to land on your island,
break down the fences
and explore
the un-mapped regions
of your mind.

Maybe
if you think about it
everyone’s alone -
floating through the emptiness
touching sometimes
but always moving on –
time out of mind.

SIGHT

Never to see the broad sweep of red and gold
from the brush of a setting sun
or the bulging black belly
of a storm cloud.

To hear the sound of water
but not to catch the play
of light and shadow
under the willows on the bank.

Not to see your own reflection
as the years change it,
or to experience the myriad sights
that delight seeing eyes –
all this diminishes the quality of life.

Still worse –
to lose sight for ever of faces
that say more than words -
not to know
when your chance remark causes pain,
share a private joke with a glance,
or see the look that says I love you.

But for me
the worst of all would be pity –
reading only what others choose –
having to ask if my clothes looked right,
and walking around my own land
led by a child.

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