Saturday, January 2, 2016

Nature Cure published in The Interpreter's House Autumn 2015

This poem was written very spontaneously from the simple prompt of 'neglect' as a theme. I've long been interested in the fine line between freedom and neglect in the context of childhood, as well as in the sense of the natural environment as being innately nurturing.

Nature Cure

Neglect your child. Set her free to find home
in bogs brash with marigolds, cuckoo flowers,
harebells in heather.

She’ll dawdle the braes peeling rushes,
find green valleys tender,
dream alone by a loch on Bin Mountain. 

Lay no tables. She’ll know
to slip a hand under the maran’s downy breast
for warm eggs; learn to make fire,

build shelters in hollows of bracken
- she’d rather watch fine rain fall
than feel the cold stove.

Or she’ll slink to cottages
where embers wink
under black-bellied pots of purties:

a sprinkle of salt, a cup of blue milk
with a wrinkle of cream from the churn.
A curl of new kittens to hold. 

She’ll mount an old donkey with fostered boys
split skin in a fall, let them laugh,
spit on grazed hands.

When navy serge stiffens with first blood
she’ll know the stale smell of herself - her shame
and knuckles blistered scrubbing stains.

But alone she’ll find her own wild cries,
hidden in hay bales and on branches rising
to open skies. She never was yours.

She’ll hitch-hike to Istanbul
sleep under new arrangements of stars
with the half moon lying back.

She’ll not know where a day 
will put her down, may learn to trust
the mysterious kindness of strangers.

Endangered: published in The North 2015

Endangered was written by a swimming pool on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam on our trip to Tanzania in 2014


a pretty slip of a thing
purest green serpentine
slithers past my bare foot
lithe on warm sandstone
to whip up the leg
of the next sun-bed

... in the circumstances
in the situation of the hotel pool
the children playing on the edge ...

though I am also enchanted
and in the lightning moment
think it is the harmless kind
that lives under rafters, not
the green mamba ... but I know
(I still see a thin loop of him now,
in the shade of the mattress)
that I will not lie on a bed
with a slinky young snake beside me, so
with a look to the woman serving drinks,
I betray him. The Masai!
she shrills, as her tray sways
and steadies, and the Masai guard
is here with nagual speed, dapper 
in red wraps, bone anklets, machete erect.
I won't look to where excited children gather
around the limp thing in his hand.