In my childhood
It was always winter
Afternoons of grass and kindling
For fire’s warmth in evenings
Shadow and the crack of laurel
In the heat.
My father cut great swathes
And each year on my birthday
We’d flatten an unmown path
And pile it high to pop and spit
Like fighting cats
In the heat once it was lit.
Every stick became a
Fire’s friend – we’d watch for blue caves in the depths of them
Learnt to turn the logs just so
Hot side out.
Every morning the frost
Fitted onto everything – leaves
And cars and slithered onto roads
The dog’s breath came out like dragons
Our own caught to light
And made rainbows.
Each day we’d mitten and sheepskin
Knitted into buttons of coats and necessary scarves
But still those cold cold feet at school
And fingers that didn’t bother us ’til
They turned blue at the tips
And made us scream.
Rain and more rain, the creek’s flooded pleasure and booted we’d send
A load of fledgling boats to meet their doom to the white water.
Then hot water bottle dreaming
In flannel sheets.
It was like this all the time.
They tell me
You have a sea view
From your room –
If only you could still stand on the chair
To poke it into your eye
The plimsoll line of blue
For days or months or years.
At the shop they play
that old echo music
in the lane for
doll size ristretto
on milk crate seating –
the afternoon unbends
all these boxes come undone (reputation’s cello tape
begging at the wind)
all labels out ways
lemons belly up.
Then they are chosen
– just as love in those
skip beat choruses.
Sleep sweeps your forehead
a clear line from this to that time
each of your dreams chosen and
unhooked from its place in the resemblance
inhaled – waking in you, resting.
And in your sleep your dreams might dance
toss their bright lights and memories about
call to you in all their voices, geographies
What are these creases?
Is that why you cry on waking –
your own voice a trembling cleft
mimicking the ones you knew?
Out over the frog call prayerful grass
Loom these small fires,
Play lights, the jealous darlings of stars
Up and (like our voices) down again.
Sing all our conversations
Taken up early years ago
Fallen through water and sand – stone, too (a silence, a pause)
Everything is not everything
That flits in the dusk light
Or calls and calls again.