Showing posts from November, 2013

Baby Boy

They are that small: who can remember? It's not been so long but still we puzzle it. He has a frown. It is troublesome to be born, he says, with this frown and his closed eyes and his scrunched posture. Oh, we say: Baby Boy it will be lovely, you'll see, later, when your eyes can sort shape from colour. Ask your cousin, she has been here for years: two, nearly two and a half. She puts a hand on your hair, it's soft as her own rabbit. You hold her finger- he's got hands, she tells us: her eyes open up wide, all mystery and appreciation. Little Grandson had said all along: when the baby comes, my brother. He is at school when we visit, forging ahead, reconnaissance stuff. Of nature tables and Lego, of numbers, letters, hierarchy, protocol, dinosaurs and biscuits, he has knowledge to impart: gravitas with giggles: such a wry smile he has: those boys, we will be saying: oh, those boys! Every day, every minute: babies are born: ergo: every day, every minute: the potential is

Waiting Begins Around 7pm

Anxious happy: calm is the desired state. Think of the mind as flat water. On the shore so many fine grained, foliated, metamorphic rocks: perfect pieces of creation, the perfect size to hold, smooth, multi-tonal. It won't be long before a few bounce out, skimming rings; a visual echo. These waves descend from surface to sediment: they are dippy, in their hither-thither, deep in their love, predictable, wonderful.
Little Grandson is with his cousins. He needs a distraction or two. A shore of stones would do well for him. When he was done with the tricks of magicking spray: like walls of water: he would see how a wall could be built on the land. A line of the stones, layered up. A house, or a castle: something more permanent than the splash and no less charmed. In the garden will be enough trees to feed a herd of friendly dinosaurs. Maybe he will sit on the wall and look at the reflective water, at how the world can be upside down and this is how things are.

Pumpkin Bona Fide

Down to the river curiosity draws booted steps. Today is a day to kick off boots, if the washed squash is still there, oddly trapped: wade out to find out if it's real, plastic or other as yet uncertain thing. It is there, an orange shine between weeded rocks. It still seems unexpected. The shallows are shallower, today: the boots have clearance, an inch at least below the rim. There's a  comprehensible path for the rescue, which contains mild peril. The water pushes, impressively weighted. Rocks underfoot are loose, and slippery. Measured steps, practiced calm, a hand stretched to steady on a halfway boulder. And then, the squash is lifted: proves itself real, being flawed and open under the waterline. I can see seeds in the cavity. Steadily, back track, lift it higher on the bank, out of the flood plain into a bed of moss and dry leaf.

An Ice Glaze

Subdued sun: noon has early evening light. Plants are frost-brittle. A quality of stoppage rules the sky until a distant shotgun ruffles up the pigeons. The hedge is warmly hued, under the glistening freeze: if the sun were fiercer today it would steam, like the neck of a serpent in a torrid swamp. Over the roll of the earth Dog and I stroll, happily absorbed, homewards. On the couch a damp Dog has snuck. In through windowpanes a brief lift of sun: it compliments the handsome leaves of the avocados.

An Unforaged Squash

A tonnage of leaf from pale to brassy rustles like brushes on cymbals. The river silvers and suddenly a pumpkin is caught between two rocks. I want to fetch it but the water would flood my boots. I don't why I didn't take off the boots: to avoid the cold, in spite of adventure? If I had reached it I would have placed it above flood level and wondered all year: will pumpkins then grow wild in the woods? It was smooth and unsmashed so perhaps it was plastic. I would have brought it home to decorate the garden or tumble into a recycle bin. Whatever the truth: I stood in the shallows, brimmed with marvel.

Underdogs Happy Dogs

The air is notably colder. It condenses, crunches into surface ice. Coffee flask rolls in the passenger foot well: glugs, reassuring. Bags are packed and loaded. The address is not difficult to find. The house is cute. Here is a child I saw last as waving white fuzz on an ultrasound. Here are the dogs I walked: three years ago over the flattened sands of Castle Rock. Here we are, eating curry and talking names for a newer baby while a blonde elf child scores the dresses on a dance show. A Staffordshire terrier curls underfoot. The other, the scruffy part Lurcher, sleeps on his cushion. You should know his story: that once my friend was having a terrible day and sat on the steps of a theatre. A neglected fur tangle snuck up to sit in comfort with her. She saw the burns on his whippy body and could only take him home. There was talk of the Dog Warden, initially. If we can't home him… the man said. He has a home, she decided. A future. Curry simmer wobbles the stovetop pan. It is later…

Ice And Fire

In the night the world is crystallised. In the distance is traffic noise: here only one human, a cat, a few chickens, a dog stirs. Sun edges a dark cloud much as flame edges a fry pan. In the field Dog wakes the wild birds, springs two roe deer. She catches nothing, cares not, exhales happy steam. In pale cloud scatters the moon is camouflaged. From the horizon a puzzling dot grows into a hot air balloon.

A Colour Wash

Day cold bright in blue, in luminous cloud Washing scarcely dries on the rotary line Though the wind breathes all over it A day does what it does so a fire is struck A half load of t-shirts dangle in the polytunnel The grass grows overlong underneath Indoors, the wet towels and trousers of today's wash Hued inky, plum, pitch-black Drape the amber wood of the old clotheshorse Silver change gathers in a pot, for later, for the launderette.

A Candle, Creamy White

An hour's yomp to Feather Tor and back. Mud sucks boots. Wind slaps face. Coats inflate, puff the walkers up ping-ping like popcorn. The watch is consulted. It gives seven minutes to climb the slabbed granite and wrestle the air. We are on time for Little Granddaughter, who has been playing and needs glasses and an eye test and has not drawn a picture of a cat: the very idea! But she will see the cats at Nanny's house and they have hair and she has hair but cats don't have glasses or a eye test. She relates this information to Nanny. 'Peppa Pig!' we say to each other, remembering the episode. Pedro Pony sports a fine pair of spectacles. Rain falls, heavy, smacks an acorn onto the windscreen. Cardboard is coaxed to flame. Gravy simmers on the Rayburn hob. A table candle pulses, creamy white.

Crouching Winter

After the frost moon hail falls. Cells of ice hold tight On the weathered planks of the pallet table. The sun wakes up cold, splashes watery light. Leaf by leaf colour blows from trees. There's a perceptible breath of winter: It pads closer: a thing luxuriant Stark, sparkling, perilous.

Night Exposure

The moon is a summoning eye All things are drawn to it. A line of hopes and fears strings From here to there; swings shakily In that peerless pearling light. There is no denial. The moon gazes on everything Serene, steadfast, startling.

Soul Blazing

The earth turns our view out of day, into night. A deepening mottle of cloud, silk-soft, harmonious, settles low. All is shadow in the antiqued light. Eyes adapt, ears are confused: there is music: the percussion of which is traced to water twisting in a ridged drainage pipe. Cool air on skin; scent of wet grass. A lick of dark coffee, lingering. Like the water tumbles a convergence comes. It is enough, in life, sufficient of itself, to have this sentient experience: to be delighted by it. Anything that is not part of this is superfluous. It is not what is done; not endured, adored, embraced nor denied; it is the perception of it. It is walking through this blend of evening shades, soul centred, blazing.

Steering Boots

If I like a path I like to walk it to the end. Most often it steers to another path. Maybe I'll choose this one, maybe I won't: it's all whim, here in the park where the wind plucks trees bare under a vague sky. I like to walk where I walk, off the path prescribed in tarmac: locate fallen leaves, amble under portly old firs, stand, observant, on the concentric lines of the stump. Hands and knees are the best kind of cold: wakeful, not painful. A random taupe leaf sticks to my boot's toe.

House Of The Aptly Shambolic

Hail strike on windowpanes wakes us before the day has begun; one of those frustrating days where simple tasks are complex traps although no crockery slips off the draining board and tea is prepared in time and there are moments where rainbows loop themselves in cloud even if Dog sighs, disappointed in a shortened walk; my phone case is easily mended and Little Granddaughter says 'So'ry Nam-ma,' unasked, sincerely.
(So'ry being word ointment for situations in which, somehow, something is broken or food or beverage, somehow, makes contact with carpet.)
It feels colder than the gauge reports. The night sky is clear, in part; three quarters of a rotund moon exquisitely visible. On the way home we stop to buy milk. Car park trees, shivery in the wind chill stand isolate, planted apace. Home is warm, dishevelled; has a smell of coal smoke, wet dogs, boiled vegetables. It is, in short, a suitable mess.


Frost spreads in the night and the morning arrives sparkling. The sun keeps a clear path, melts it all, it keeps the sparkle: the twink, the sense of mischief and glamour. Dog and I run through field grass kicking diamonds. Oak leaves blow down, opulent in colour: one falls into my hand, almost directly, a clear gift. At home one has wetted boots and an old brown leaf: yet the experience will not depreciate.

Wash Cycle

All around, walls of cloud. Propped above, precarious, a blue sky. Washing on the line all day, in sun and brisk wind, is drier but not dry: holds a scent of autumn, an apple-spice, cool air smell. Each peg unclipped drops into the pot, each item lumps into the basket. Starlings make their massed flights, indistinctly edged against the pallid glare of sun. In the field behind one pheasant whirrs up, wings so mechanical. Cat is curled, sheltered, by the flowerpots. Dog pushes her nose along the grass. In the kitchen the Rayburn is lit, the washing up is regrouping, is always regrouping. Hot sticky swirls of rosehip line the big pan.

Eleventh Hour

Boy has an alarm set. We take our two minutes reflection on the drive to Plymouth. Rain smudges sky and land together. On Royal Parade poppies decorate trees. Every memorial is adorned: bright rings under the dark lists of names, the dense squared stone. Names, listed; lives, loves, heroics, fear; compressed to this. Too many names to unfold each: too much to endure, too much to forget.


A Sunday set aside for remembrance. Most of the day I am up in the nursery room, painting a tree for the imminent grandchild. Little Grandson sits cross-legged in the cot, asks one question for every brush stroke. Why is paint wet, for example, and where's the owl. Soup for lunch, two kinds, homemade. Baby Girl drops by to visit, chewing car keys. She brings Mum and Nan and a light up teddy. Little Grandson kisses her on the nose. Back at the paint face, the last leaf is lined. Coffee and cake to celebrate. Across the world; we see by television; a hurricane has torn up towns, wiped out homes, lives, securities. Little Grandson is tired, he drags a blanket to the sofa. A poppy wreath props on the cenotaph. A camera pans over faces: tensed, grieving, respectful faces.


Shoes unlaced, socks inside out, left on a car seat. Trouser legs: one two: rolled up.
Prints in pairs press soft sand. Onshore the wind blows, steals a childlike chuckle, throws it over storm bashed garden walls. Rain drives sidewards, cold as pebbles. The café is open. Soup is waiting.
At night the moon crescent rests over clouds: the glimpsed belly of a genie.

Sleep Deficient

23:32. Put the espresso mug down. Admit, relinquish. The sky, vast and soft and cold and black and silver speckled, turns slow overhead, whale-esque. How wearisome it seems, to need sleep or nutrients or basic hygiene. One would rather be as the sky: existent, encompassing. Can eyes crumple? Under-shadowed: distant as the night.


We are under water. Shoals of rain flash past: deft, tiny pieces. Puddle surface breaks like mirrors. It is the nature of water to unshatter: smooth to its course. Without flow it chokes. At home chicken bones are split to broil in a steel pan. Steam jitters the lid, escapes in warmly spiced blooms.

Low-Key Festivities

The way the wind blows is roguish today. It ties knots in loose hair, chucks tree debris, tugs at moorings. One pheasant attempting flight is held at a hover till it gives up. Clouds are pushed till they fall into one fuzzed grey spread.
Indoors, a busy oven: the last of the pumpkin seeds roast, a pan of butter boils to ghee. The floors are swept and we are indecisive about the washing.

Drive home from work under a dark sky, not one firework appears.
There are evenings when we have stood, bundled in outdoor padding, sighing at flagrant fires in the sky: tiny against mountainous flames: writing shapes with fizzing white heat: thrilled by the tar barrels: ears crackling with luminous shrieks.
Indoors, behind the Rayburn door, coals and hand-hewn logs form an orange opal underworld. The flames are lazy, magnificent, mauve-tinted.

Dragon's Farewell

Starlings burst trees with silhouettes and prattle. Butterflies press to warmth on fence planks. Where the river ran over the field crop strands hold in neat rows, like green hair on a cheap doll. Clouds are big, the blue sky bigger. A brown deep churn of river rushes seaward. To the bend where the fallen oak branch had taken the form of a dragon we run, ungainly, over tussocks, splash puddled mud. The water looks flat. We stare for the rise of snout, the plumed tail: and keep staring. The form is freed, we know it: out of the fibrous wood somewhere under that flat wide water he has found his limbs and turned seawards and our hearts fly after him and he was ours, for one summer.