no picnic

that cloud

on the edge of the cliff

from the coastal path
like the head of the patriarch

only a flimsy thing
that soon blows over

leaving clear day
and little else of meaning

on the headland
where we leave eggshells
for the birds

and scatter

sorry
I meant to show you something special

tea with bad milk

I remember our first holiday
on a campsite in the rain

a woman made us tea with bad milk
before we headed home again

guilt sits upon the memory
unpalatable and lumpy

one is forced to bear it all
then swallow politely

what the tea leaves told us
I never could recall

but no amount of sourness now
can change what came before

from another ocean 

tales were told at table

that night
and when it came to my turn

I said
why is it always my turn

and the answer came back
you’re the only one

here
so I recounted the days of my

youth
which I missed grievously

and told
of sorrows and lost loves

and worse things
wearing my heart wide open

recalling
the story of the whale mother

singing
to her stolen calf unceasingly

even
from another ocean

spring lambs

this morning everything seems

flat
my food like something
painted on a plate

I’m told today is holy
I suppose I should be patient

but like spring lambs kicking

in a field
I would Christ easter in me

and each day ever after

be nascent

[after “Let him easter in us”, Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’, st.35]

sea breeze

my spirit
which I have never seen
and that I love above all

things
and is insubstantial
and indestructible
that animated me as

a child
blows through these lines
like a sea breeze
on the night I first saw you
and felt like a man both

invincible
and riven through

obtained by digging

experience flashes over us
like the morning shower

the more intense it is
the more difficult to grasp

for one whole second
let alone an hour

if I could only hold a moment
from that wellspring of joyous giving

but all I have are these
dull memories

like casts and molds
no longer living

so long ago it seems
intangible as dream

but for these cold fossil forms
obtained by digging

no book

I imagine the room will be small
with pale blue walls
and a neat bed
with a thin coverlet
perhaps a curtained window
overlooking a communal garden
like the one we had
at the flats you never came to

there will be a bedside table
but no books
except for the one you leave behind
after your visit
with the black covers
alongside that copy of The Racing Post
the cleaner was reading

I’d send it back to you
if you hadn’t gone on ahead
I only back certainties now
want no book at all

the sanatorium

and if I visited the sanatorium and met you there
as a visitor
a paying guest
I might say that I had come to take the air
and was not sick at all
just not feeling quite at my best
but the truth is I am riven through
and while each one of you
might shortly pack your bags and leave
I must stay on indefinitely

but this is only supposition
there is no one to meet
and no sanatorium
just the window and the city street

but my stay
it seems
remains indefinite