It was billed as a memorial.
We would all make quiches
and puddings, bring bottles
of fine wines and photographs
of her when she was younger.
There would be poems
to celebrate her existence
and to express our sadness.
In between we would gaze
out of her drawing room window
at green hills, canal boats and horses
cantering in fields of buttercups.
And in the gaps between betweens
we would talk of work, holidays,
even relate anecdotes unconnected
to her in any familiar way.
Some of us would shed tears,
others would hold them back
for fear of being seen.
All of us would raise a glass
to her beauty and vow
that we would do this again,
perhaps towards the year’s end.
We did all of these things
and much more …
but what we really wanted
and expected if we’re honest
was to see her smiling softly
as she slowly descended those stairs.
The bus driver
Like withered neurones
we failed to connect.
My half-hearted gesture
would not spin his day
or switch his thinking
from some unnavigable gap
to that damp hollow in his mind
where spots of time are spawned.
His passengers, a cargo of mannequins,
sat numbed by engine drone.
Down thin lanes of blackthorn
and wild plum the sun shone
soft as lemon wax.
Crows, black as old oil
traipsed through snowfields
the colour of crushed butterflies
from the soles of my shoes.
And the fields were cathedrals.
And we all sang one song.
As light breaks they rise in hushed fields -
conquistadors in steel fatigues
their war cries rhythmic flings of wind.
Yet sitting high upon these tumid poles
a womb of sorts, where volts are warmed
and amber eggs are hatched
to airy riffs of hissing sails.
Look up! Between those birling blades
beauty spins in deep green tones.
But is it art, a ruck of windblown booms
bolted down in nature’s gallery
by engineers of the avant-garde?
Or are these slender angels Amazons –
smooth-breasted battlemaids powered by the stars?
ab utero caes
Lit by a danza of candlelight
she lies naked beneath his gaze,
her belly bloated with gas and stars.
Inside the exposed caul
an infant dusted with flecks of amnion
hides behind stiff blue fists.
Stifling a retch he delivers the baby
as if it were his own,
laying it gently on the cold slab.
Filling his lungs with lavender oil
he picks up his chalks;
feels God’s thick fingertips
creeping down his backbone.
As he works he sips red wine,
glancing ad libitum
at the mortician’s hourglass:
buxom, waspy, callipygous.
His breath spills in soft whistles
through solid air,
its rhythm broken only by owls
and a young woman
dancing in the olive groves of Anchiano.
At daybreak he stops sketching
and a man called Luca replaces the foetus
before stitching the cadaver with gut string.
In the cimitero a sudden squall
raises the heckles of wild dogs
yelping and scavenging for bones.
Rocked by the beat
I cupped my hands together
and caught them
easy as softly tossed oranges –
until I spotted you:
that subtle curve of elbow,
forearms stretched out
like pears in sunlight.
That’s when the jingle
kicked in, playing havoc
with my rhythm.
Those massive white orbs
were hot as the devil’s fork
leaving no room in my pockets
for bubble gum cards,
blood alleys or the odd frog.
Hey Perry! They’re scorching my trousers
I complained, pouting.
Save it for a rainy day
to boys much older than me
with their DA’s slicked in cream;
to bigger girls who sniggered
and smelled of spun sugar.