Saturday, 24 December 2016

Woman, universal

For Lesley

I knew you
long before I met you.

In the stories of the women
that came before
and will long come after us.

In the blue of Boadica
fierce in the truth of battle
and in the warrior queen
alone on the African plain.

In the might of Cleopatra
holding love in her own hands
and in the power of the doula
giving faith in our bodies, to overcome.

In Artemis and Athena
echoes through the firmament
as unseen threads join star to star
woven through my life, a skein of hope.

I knew you long before I met you.
Woman, universal.

Friday, 23 December 2016


She wrote it out.
Sat on the beach and sifted for words
Through the stones.
Testing the weight of each,
Feeling the smoothness of pebbles like letters
A thousand metaphors in a grain of sand
And looking for similes, bright and rare as sea glass.

Seeking cadence in the rhythm of the sea and thinking
How the crash of the waves feels as triumphant as love
Till the drag of undertow leaves you cold and standing
Exposed but knowing 
that the crash will come again 

In an avian life that grabbed her by the neck
And dashed her on the rocks
Over and over again, until it was better to crack
And let the words pour out
In rivulets down the cliff face
To sink in the rock pools
Or hide amongst the stones 
Where the feathers are empty quills.
She'll choose the ones she wants to use.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Thoughts on a day off from service, Barton-On-Sea

And so we came
Down from the city of Southampton.
Twenty of us, or more
Pouring along the crevices of the rock
With the languor of treacle
and sticky in the heat.

We glimpsed the huts first
like building blocks from the playroom
washing-line bleached
and pegged to the cliffs.

We felt shock of sand through nylon
As we watched the ships of our fathers and brothers
move reluctant through the narrow water
Clinging to the shore like babes
And pushing slowly out along the narrow passage
between the legs of the isle and the mainland
born at last into the open sea.

We saw stones starched and white as sugar
Dissolving into tea-warm waves
As seagulls shrieked their dinner call
like the children shouting for tea.

And through it all the sea stretched out
Flat to the horizon
Beneath the smoothing iron
of the copper-plate sun.