I have watched the roses grow,
entranced by their translation
of earth and air and light and water
into structure, scent and colour.
Which occurs without words
and then words to describe it
arise in my mind.

I have watched the roses grow
but I don’t share the roses’ time.
I can see a leaf is open now,
I can see a bud has formed,
but I can’t perceive the movement as it happens
however long I look,
however hard I stare.

I have watched the roses grow
and known they grow continually
though I can’t see it.
So it seems to happen in the gaps
between the moments when I’m present,
to happen in those hidden spaces
where my sense of worlds and roses
opens into words.


First they tried to drown me,.
but I know water almost better
than the air.
I waited, watched my white limbs glide
through silence, green and cold.
Then I rose.

Next they tried to burn me,
but there are things that even fire
cannot consume.
I made a bonfire of my heart.
I turned my hair to flame.

Then they tried to bury me,
deep in the dark, damp earth
But I am half a worm, and worked
my way back to the world.

In the end they tried to hang me
but I knew then, at last, that I had wings.
And flew.

I Don’t Know What My Soul Is

I bought a silver necklace
and from that silver necklace hangs
a soaring turquoise bird.
Now birds sing at midnight
in my mind,
and birds fly all around me
everywhere I go.

Now the beams in my ceiling remember
the forests they came from.
My room is filled with trees
and the sounds of flight.
Green shadows flit and flicker
on the walls.

Then today I saw a white owl
hunt the half-dark,
quartering the rough grass.
Now that strange angel
hunts in me

(untitled from 2015)

Sometimes I am scared of music,
in fear of beauty.

If I truly heard the blackbird’s song
or saw the buff-tailed bumblebee,

if I let the words of poems
reach me

I would lament forever war
and cruelty.

I would cry for every poisoned fish
and stricken tree.

If I let myself be moved I might be moved
to the ends of the earth and still be moving.

It might break me.

Through a Glass, Greenly

Drifting as a damp spore,
through an open eye, or woken ear,
moss slowly inhabits the mind.

Now my gaze is always drawn
to its green flame,
and all my dreams are green.

I dream of fallen cities,
softened and silenced by moss.
I dream of all the selves I was.

I dream of distant jungles,
where, in ruined temples,
I almost hear the voices

that once sang there.
I dream I understand
what time is.

Mother, Father, Elder, Guide

The bowhead whale was swimming
beneath the Arctic ice
one hundred years before I knew
what water was.

The ancient yew was writing
weather into wood
two thousand years before I knew
what winter was.

The blue-green earth was turning
both away from and towards the light
three billion years before I knew
what wonder was.

Clay Calls To Hands, Suggestive and Seductive

My hands know the hands
that made bison out of clay
thirteen thousand years ago.

My hands know clay.
Clay converses with them,
participates in its own shaping.

As a child I dug raw clay
from a patch in the garden
between the willow and swing.

I formed small figures from it –
cats and horses mostly –
and arranged them on my windowsill.

My hands know cats and horses
the way those hands knew bison
thirteen thousand years ago.

Poetry Exercise 3.1

I remember the writing exercises
Mrs Hastings used to give us.
Imagine you are a conker.
An apple. A radish. A peach.
Tell the story of your life.
I tried to imagine what it would be like to be eaten
Should the story end with the last swallow
or the first bite?
Writing in blunt pencil
in rough red exercise books.
Mrs Hastings drank Coca-Cola
but she drank it from a mug
and pretended it was tea.
Mrs Hastings brought her dog to school.
I dreamed the dog became a leopard.
When her husband died she bought the school
a picture of the Pope.
I remember that year we learned long division
and drew Norman castles.
Mrs Hastings hit us with wooden rulers
and made the chatterboxes stand in the cabbage patch
with corks in their mouths
There was a war.
If a bomb dropped on this classroom
said Mrs Hastings
there would be nothing left of us at all
not even a shadow.