Begin Again

There will be time to count the raindrops

on the window. Their tracks traced

with a finger pressed hard

against the horror of the afternoon.

There will be time to tune my bones

to the hum of the window wipers.

Their backwards and forwards

whipping with grief.

There will be time to unspeak

these silences. Their pauses peeled

off the skin of love till the flesh

is red raw and angry.

There will be time to find your name

amongst the clutter of clouds.

To dust down this longing for light

after the storm. To turn back

the cruelty of clocks to the day

we first met and the world stood still.

Break

It’s raining for the first time in weeks.

A soft grey weeping that says

we no longer have to pretend

we are on holidays but can beat up

a pillow till the feathers fly.

Furious, fantastic, the lightness

of clouds folded into our pockets.

Your heart beating too fast,

this fear called breathing,

in and out, lost damp days

soaked in silence. The words

racing down the windowpane.

I have no way to hold back this flood.

Looking Out

As a child, I saw the fields

in their dark purples,

riffs of green, as patches

on a quilt. Stone walls

the threads of silk

stitching together

a secret people

who spoke a language

I had lost before I was born.

But my father told me

it wasn’t a blanket

of brightly coloured squares.

It was poverty, pure and simple.

Hunger divided. Even before

famine roads rolled out

across the sea. The bleakness

of small coffins dropping

into the waves. America

with her bruised lips, England

with her mouldy prison walls.

Yet my mother sang rebel songs

of desperate men with their tents

of blue, their starvation scratched

on stone pillows. Their mad longing

for the mountains with their riots

of heather. Violet cliffs falling into

an ocean of indigo patchwork.

That beauty is cruel

doesn’t make it less beautiful.

Cleopatra in Wuhan

Snake streets in which love is stripped back

to a silent desert empty of soldiers.

You can have too much beauty.

I am queen of the deserted sky trains,

the roads that repeat their quarantine crossings.

Empires fall but this kiss of poison seeps back

across borders. When is it time to let go?

My skin slides free, curls into a question

of shoes, the cutting of hair. I wear my masks

in a city suspended, prisons in small boxes.

Learning My Language

Snow falling on stone.

Each flake carved

with the word for super nova

or a small prayer

chiselled into sunshine.

A melting of windows.

How the frame of the painting

has become as one

with the white blanket

of the wall. The lip

of that ocean spray

is rising up out of lunar black.

Fox prints across an unknown planet.

My telescope lungs.

How the mountains and the sea

are as far away as the Himalayas.

Yet the edge of oxygen

brings all colours closer.

Bird song in my fingertips,

so many different words for love.

Isolated

There is a kind of grief

that falls in April.

Swirls of pink white blossom

sliced open on the blades

of grass. How the clocks

cut into the afternoon sunshine

of the people we once were.

Back when all love seemed possible,

back before this long goodbye

spoken through windows

where the glass is in our throats

and the words won’t translate

into the shelter of the woods,

but fly broken hawks, wild and lost,

through the years of sickness.

Back when the wind could hear

my song of survival, back when

I dreamt this was my home,

my place of safety, not a cage

in which I live alone.