As a child, I would trace what I couldn’t draw against the window glass, the side of my hand cold and too smooth afterwards. I didn’t think to look out. Fatigue reduces the day to a light box. I press myself against it, peel off the outline of a complicated life to colour in later.
I enter the river-birds’ world, its dark and damp graffitied walls, a smell of rot in museum cool while the Thames’ salty breath dries a cormorant’s wings, laps at the bridge’s concrete pillars, brings word inland of the distant sea, the life that goes on and on, years without stopping, day […]
You strike the first match – the room lurches from black to indistinct before colour reasserts itself in ambers and golds. Walls and ceilings shift and dip, all down the street windows flickering, half the valley out by the look of it and your face, as you reach for the corkscrew, is like it was […]
Finding the crab apples, my astonishment I’d gauge as being on a par with pilgrims seeing a tear build in the corner of the Spanish Virgin’s powder-blue eye. Or those Egyptian passers-by, agape, saying a year’s worth of prayers in one day to the smiling saint on the roof who gave city air the sheen […]
What were they like – Lu-Yu, Yang-Ti, Kojiju – sitting by their bamboo house under the moon, unable to sleep, reflecting on how that pale flower in the stream cannot be caught in a jar? Did they use lanterns or the brightness of the dark to stir those brushes as pine cones dropped in the […]
Friday 1.59pm How many swans exactly line the harbour in Galway? And what is she doing up there, Our Lady in Effigy, filling an alcove in her perpetual pose of prayer? And another form, practising her tightrope while lunchers on a quayside stroll pretend not to notice because the world is not a circus after […]
Gallipoli, 1915 I joined the band to play the flute to chivvy the men to war – but mostly I was lackey to the medic, sent out with the water chits: scraps of paper with the words, please let the bearer have some drinking water, sent out to the lighter to fetch the water shipped […]
Trees at the end of the garden are golden, amber, lemon among lime but my mother’s pencil flits over paper silvering outlines she can see of a ghostly steeple, a roof and a path, before she turns them into colour. Applied with the flat of a squirrel-tail brush, thin washes in dove, aqua, citrine, but […]
Look, look, the boy said, as he conjured flowers from the air. The father smiled. Very nice. And look, the boy said, making water disappear inside a newspaper then making it pour into a jug. Very impressive, the father said. Now look, the boy said, levitating and going too high. Be careful, the father said. […]
Montmartre, Paris Concentrate. Money’s at stake. A man shuffles three counters, one marked on the underside. Shell game. Pull out your wallet. Put up €10. You win. Easy money. Smirk at one or two nearby idlers. Double or nothing? Sure. Why not? Bet your tenner plus his. Now, pay even closer attention. Watch those hands. […]
Let us sip ice-cold lemonade through a straw and talk of furry caterpillars, thrushes’ eggs, the swoosh of a paddle-steamer. Let us watch a plane go past, its vapour trail a line chalked on blue sugar paper. Let us lie in the grass without speaking, then I’ll read you a poem about blizzards, wool slippers, […]
The adults said only mountaineers could access the quarry – but we found what lies past the disused church and the phone box with its peeling paint. A broken stile, empty fields edged with hawthorns, and a padlocked five-bar gate. We squelched across marshland, took the right-hand fork at the bridge, gripped the earth as […]
Today I will offer up daffodils. I will put all thought of milk aside. Today I am not a container for warmth and nourishment. This may be the start of what happens next: the spring of green stems from my belly and my reaching hands like those of a gold goddess, open and many.