&

RF

 Twelfth Night

It ends with the boiling of bones.
Flesh leaves the ribs as easily
as pine needles leave dry branches.
An old carcass in grey water
shrouded by its own grease.
It ends with the boiling of bones.

JG

Morning after

Red-letter days, we look for omens.
Here at the sink with a view
of the coast road, laundry turning
itself over on the line and a magpie
cross-grained as the number thirteen
startling across.
Or here, where the scribe turns over
a new leaf of fly-blown vellum,
checks the initial, selects crimson
and lapis for the fairytale ending for
the goose that swallowed its carbuncle
and lived happily ever after somewhere
out along the coast road which leads
to nothing in particular but the sky
blue as it was in the beginning.
The new year slips into old habits.
In the foreground, hands turning over
and over in the sunlit, soapy water.
In a dish, the plain gold ring.

RF

January 9th 2009

It’s later than we walked before,
the sky is still salt glazed –
cracked.
I don’t know the name
of the field we cross
with its turnip-toppy crop.
My collie who used to run off all ziggy-zaggy
seems older now and happy to walk close -
sometimes she’s stirred enough to lift the crows.
Our boots and paws are clagged
with clay oozing mud from the thawing frost.
It sucks us in, we might be swallowed up
and there’d be nothing left for them to find
but a funny hat and my hand clutching an empty lead.
We pass the surprise of white hens –
who can’t have been there before
and cross Warren Road to the place
Hurricane P2673 came down in September 1940
and John Hugh Ellis was lost at 21.
We read this every day and the facts never change,
then we look up to see Canary Wharf
glittering like the fake Lighthouse wreckers lit.
Turning we head for home;
whipped by the wind
we pick up speed.
Home to the oranges
I left softening on the stove.
Oranges and a house full
of the smell of possibility.

JG

Counting to one

The trick is, to nick the knife
smoothly under the wooden topknot and peel
back the waxy dimpled rind smoothly
in a single coil.
Then, to ravel it up, conceal
the pithy white flesh wounds under
the eponymous skin so it looks quite
like its old self again.
It’s five houses she’s done this in.
At the old table in the new room
under the thin white January sun
she watches her hands, knuckly
and thick-veined, go about their business,
the tail unfurling.
She lifts it, tucks the pith
gently into its own thickness round
an imaginary globe of air –
she can feel it turning.
And gently, she sets the complete
orange on a slightly crazed
January-sky-blue plate.
There it sits beside itself
in matchless duplicity.

RF

Marrakech

I have taken my photographs
of snowmen to Marrakech,
where it is raining more than
it has rained for thirty years.
The souk turns to mud;
men sit on tins of paint,
vipers in damp baskets sleep.
Mahmoud studies snowmen
and laughs at the one who sits
cross-legged leaning back
on a bench in Regents Park.
In the evening he cooks
his spiced tagine
with apricots and plums.
He slices oranges in circles.
Arranged like flowers on a safii dish
they are dusted with cinnamon
and turn to amber in the candlelight.