You ask me what is it

this brittle I’m speaking of:

what is this short temper?

And I am cracking the colours

having broken the blue

I say brittle is like this

and the shortness in my own breath

shows me how long I have been wanting

that exact blue of your eyes.

The red is no better

run like the Rio Dulce into murk

nothing can save us now

the sweet scratch of your nail

through the hardening colour

makes red redder and the

small smile you give me

is as clear as the sky.

Then, yellow will not shatter.

Yellow will not yield

my thumbs are worn, nail bed

lifting from my scratching at the

yellow you say brittle in my ear

and I know myself that I shatter

in the the yellow centre.

We have found the colours,

collected them and grouped them

we made them run and spilt them

we have seen that they each will do

the thing they themselves dictate

being made waxy and soft

until they cool. Then they are

as crisp as the day

and as likely to crack into shapes

spelling brittle across the board.

You sisters take the round ones

and make marks big and small

over huge sheets of paper.

The spangled colours are

as mixed and sweet

as the lines on the maps that show the way.



The paragraph where I fall in love

is written, published, distributed

has sat all papery and lush on the shelves

for some years now – but has been read a loud

and sounded out so the words are

round like the moon and just as full

but reflected, now, like so much light.


It is the tang and spring of the garlic in our food

the surprising sweetness in the nip of it

papery and cloven the hooves of it across our floor

like so many feet in the night

searching out the warmth we make

for heat that shatters across the tastebuds

is grown on the good stuff

filled the mattress with its outer layers

falling off and falling.


I will write you poems on fault lines of

this fruiting body

I will drink your breath ’til dawn when you turn in your sleep

and face away from me

I will inscribe all the tiny events

into the curve of the skin

and peel it peel it

the paragraph when I fell in love

in minute letters all over again.

We put you here


With the seashell wash wave there

swimming bones

all the small ones with names like carpals, sesamoid, phalanges

can at last intertwine and rest there mistaken for fish spine

among the debris of the ocean’s sigh.


I remember you with that strange spongey swimming cap

in white flotsam feet up longing out your body to the sea’s

in and out green and glassy

clean like eyes and wild like hair.


When they come to pick over my life like gulls

(scaphoid, lunate, triquetral, pisiform)

can they see in every reflected surface

how we would laugh together and pass it from wave to wave

until we surfed them home?










The Child’s Poem

Poetry, Uncategorized

No, don’t make it too long,

this poem for a child

and only touch on things

a child could hold in their hand

(a strand of rainbow wool)

or experience the fullness

(a cup of water, laughter that lasts

til the voice tears up and croaks ‘no more!)


But, take that wool in your own hand

– that thread that was the sky

and led the dancing cat

all the way home to her favourite chair.

Test it, now for suppleness and colour.

Fold it halfways and leave it there

let time pass over it

examine the fray of the ends

and the seam from yellow to green

that always has thrilled you.


Drink that cup of water

(hold it with two hands)

with care keep  it in your mouth

for just a second longer

thinking ‘this is what

I did as a child’, and this sweet water

is the draft of many rains.

If you are small enough by now

you can drop the glass

almost on purpose

and watch the shatter pattern

on the floor…


Finally you must laugh,

the poem must bring home

apple blushing laughter

tickle like a grass stem

and those peals must fall

genuine and true,

like waterfalls,

or broken glass

or rainbow all akimbo.

Mother’s Milk

Poetry, Uncategorized

It’s in everything I give you – the world.
I quaver, finding the right note
Sliding treble then flat
Voice rising up and grabbing at constellations then falling to the
Midnight zone
Out there beyond the breakers where the water darkens as if it recognizes the night
And toxic stars can’t shed their dust
On you
Singing up
Darkness or that pitch of
On water
Air and fabric
Scape of sound
Frantic over every molecule of you
Just in case what poisoned me
Will poison everything.

These voices I use for you
Might kill you, too.

White Lies


your small body

fell from mine

my white lies – unthreaded




myself unrecognisable

dark hours

held you – comfort itself




shiny streaks of


falling out – like hair




they told me

mothering would be

a thousand hours of – you




with your miraculous skin

and your own eyes

folded – at last – to sleep




so broken and rebuilt

renovation so complete

to see the true streaks – of silver


Poetry, Uncategorized


For you, I iron my breath,

dust the flames from my shoes

grapple with my own fingers and their workings.

I go and finish sewing the apples back to the tree

blossoms to my lip

sprinkle flour on the floor of our kitchen

and dance,

dance until we all return.

For you I will tie down my tongue

loosen my eyes

avert my palms.

It will be my job to fade the tiredness in the sunlight,

my duty to bulb each lantern

and polish polish polish all those tears.

You must do your own breathing

wearing all my wrinkles down.


The Bird with the Dirty Beak


The Bird


Did I tell you how afraid I had been?

For years.

Then, my

body so complete

pulsing outwards.



made who?

And from which of us?


But each evening she thinks of me

this bird with her beak

mud ridden

so encrusted

salt and old earth

earth and sand


she flies west to me

and she rubs me raw.


(With thanks to S.W and something her mother says.)