BLACK WATER

The black water shines in the street.

Stares straight back.

An empty space the size of a thought.

The three children smiling in the photograph are buried in the kindergarten garden.
A woman tends her allotment to the sound of explosions and sirens.

An ant crosses the table in the garden where I write.

I walk to find peace.

Old bikes propped on bay windows in tiny, slabbed front gardens.

You are somewhere close to the border now.
Yesterday they bombed the tracks.

A pigeon stops singing the way pigeons do
as if they forget the point of the song.

If you know what isn’t, perhaps
it’s the beginning of knowing what is.

A neighbour stops me to say four hundred people crowded into the church
for the funeral of the lonely man.

Back home, beneath the hedge, a dying hedgehog,
a motorbike spluttering in the distance,
washing on the line moving in the breeze,
the holm oaks in shock after being trimmed,
a cabbage-white pausing on the rosemary,
a magpie landing on a cracked chimney pot.

Much later, a day broken, folded, overlapping itself,
trying to mend itself, and the surprise of rain.

Night comes into the afternoon.

Memories invade again, distract.
A girl lying on a towel in a park,
reading, smoking a cigarette.
This was Anna, who collected rocks.
I prefer Quintessence to Taste,
she said. I agreed.
We were in our last year at school.

No time to think, I suppose that was it.
If you shut down, fear can’t get in.

Anna leant me a book:
How Feudalism Shaped Christianity.

The horse chestnuts of Kyiv are still standing.

I think of the men who rowed the dark rivers from sea to sea,
who, when storms came, sheltered under willows,
inarticulate, retreating into themselves,
waiting, as sometimes all of us must.

A coral necklace will warn of illness.
The witches will always meet on Lysa Hill.

Feed the stork who stays in your garden all winter.
Heal yourself with kalyna tea.

There’s nothing you can do about your nerves,
except take a deep breath and sing.

A dog barks, lights come on in a house or caravan,
to the west, by the river.

Wings race by.
Then a chorus, a theatre, breath fills spaces,
casual miracles of light.

We can only wait, perhaps.

And I think of Sophie Scholl who said
It’s such a splendid, sunny day and I have to go.

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