Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Thinking about silence (2)

Sister of swans

She hoards hush like treasure.
Her tongue lies heavy, snoozing
in its lair, stirring when thoughts
thicken. In her mouth they flutter,
wings like blades.
She blinks the world away:
in every tear a thing coils
until nothing remains but six faces.

A girl sits in a tree in the forest,
starflowers filling her lap.
Wordless she hurls her love
against the spell's wall, stitching
blossom to blossom, year to year.

(Did she eat? Did she drink?
Did she get down the tree to pee?
Did she sweat? Did she wash?
Did the flowers not wilt?
Did her first blood seep like red sap?
Was she afraid?
Was she cold? Did it snow?
How old was she when the king came?)

A famished eye trawls scripts
and scrawls, in the tapered shapes 
of petals, a beetle's forked horns,
the dart of a deer - words a flicker,
clinging, clawing. In the damp dark
of her mouth they home like bats,
winged bundles waiting
to fall into flight.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Thinking about silence

When better to rethink a poem than during the early hours when sleep unravels. Here's a difference to my artwork: once a piece is declared done it hardly ever changes again, whereas a poem niggles away at me until I return to it, over and over.


Last she pawns her tongue, for coins and crumbs,
belly a howling hollow; her books long gone,
a copper for thick tresses.

Scooped, scoured homeland, stony bane: her throat
sifts seeds of silence. She shades her eyes
but signs seep like tears.

For years she scrimps, heaving with voice and verse.
Folks come, unshout their woes, the loot and litter
of their souls, and ravaged faces soften.

Scalp bristling cold, she bears a bundle home.
She spreads stained cloth: out rolls a dull, brown,
shrivelled thing, with raised blue veins
and a diaphanous fin.

Her mouth's a bony lair, where nothing lives.
Tuber, muscle, earthworm, stiff as a bell's tongue -
she waits to feel it wake.