You pilgrims don’t be
Melancholy; every leaf
Finds its own sunlight
Island - Spring 2003
I AM A ZOO
I am a zoo, and all my untamed animals
roam free among the fountains and kiosks.
They paw and pad through the litter
left by the casual visitors. The big cats
are on the roofs of the café and administration block;
their tongues flick pinkly out of their lips.
Their eyes, shoulders, haunches, limbs
full of nothing but fierce purpose. They watch
with latent fury, waiting to rend and tear.
The stag stands looking haughtily over the heads
of the crowd. The monkey leaps and fawns,
searching visitors’ hands and pockets
for crumbs. He grins and chatters
angrily when refused, while the giraffe looks down
in bewilderment. All my bright birds shriek in scorn
at the lurid colours of visitors’ clothes,
their toys, lollipops, cameras.
At night, when the visitors have all gone,
my animals come back to me
with angry questions.
Lines Review No. 132
PLAYGROUND IN WINTER
Kids with short haircuts like to win,
red-faced and sweating, they stamp the frost slick
beyond the frozen puddle, to lengthen the slide.
Others watch the edge and centre,
piece the universe together
from kits of unlikely components.
A lone mystic boy blows phantoms
of steaming breath into the low sunbeams.
Girls are wise, waiting for life
to remind them of what they know.
Their skipping rope describes
a wheel, constantly turning;
playground dharma. And their shadows
stretch half across the playground.
Lines Review No. 132
First the moth, caught in the lampshade
like a lunatic, hurled
between his scalding vision and the cell-wall.
And the spider, slinging sailor-like
high ropes, or bunched
in a patient little fist of appetite.
Next the daddy-long-legs, forever lost,
reading the wall like a foreign language in Braille.
And once, miraculously, a dragonfly,
rustling its wings in the still, inside air,
round the room bewildered, and out again,
bearing its beautiful fuselage
with all the unnecessary dignity
of heartless creatures.
Dark Horse No. 4
There are bad connections
and wrong numbers.
Answer machines record nothing
but a curt click.
We don’t want to talk about it
over the phone. Faceless silences
sadden and bewilder at the other end of the line.
We get cut off, lose the signal
in tunnels and under bridges;
it’s never all said in a phone-in.
But here on this hillside in Wester Ross
the phone wires sing in the breeze
and the silent stars shine their ancient light
into our listening hearts.
Northwords No. 17