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

navigation 

when conversation became difficult
I made for the shelter of the trees
looking back across the sun-bleached field
to where the party was in full swing
appreciating the amplitude of tall silences
that I could navigate more easily

from there I could see you slowly circling
coming to rest
before finally heading out

navigation

ascertaining a position
calculating the most favourable route
between one point and another

even when there is no point at all

navigation

just moving around

it takes skill

practice

finesse

when even gentle waters
can seem treacherous

safer amid trees

they don’t move around

at least don’t appear to

I whispered a quiet thank you
and plotted a course back

a murmuration of starlings

we sang harsh songs to each other
made our strange movements in the shrill

air
at last descending to low complaint
that found no forgiveness

anywhere
I would have painted grass green for you
my heart forever

scorned
now can’t paint sky without cloud
nor put sun there to offer

warmth
hard to reconcile as evening gathers in

only a child could do that
as only a child

will
the sky grows ever crazier
in bewildering

display
a murmuration of starlings that with darkness

falls away

familiarity

we drift around each other
like intelligent dust

picking up after ourselves
these moods and frailties

until we sleep
and
let the real work of dust begin

the restaurant

table 1: a table for two

somewhere
in some far-off
corner of the earth
upon a broad green leaf
a butterfly is emerging
from the chrysalis
a glory to the world
dazzling wild
free
and that
is how it feels
to enter a crowded
restaurant – find you
at a table reading
and see there is
an empty chair
for me

table 2: a separate table

you ignored me last night
I’m ignoring you today

I’m at a separate table
a thousand miles away

shall we order?

table 3: ready to order

I won’t have a starter
I don’t eat dessert
I shan’t have a mains
I hurt hurt hurt
I can’t take rejection
but I can take a hint
just bring another bottle
and a wafer thin mint

table 4: menu

today
a stranger wore my shoes
choked down the morning news
ordered the wrong food
alone at a table for two

but it was me
who chatted to you so freely
over the menu
and died a little more
before the coffee

table 5: two types of silence

I sit alone at dinner
listening to the couple
at the next table
who hardly speak at all

you clear your throat
ask me to get the bill

there are as many
different types of silence
as there are colours
on a paint chart

probably more

here are two

table 6: table talk

two apples in a bowl
got us wondering
how we’d go

between two breaths
between two tides
before the pudding
has arrived

we were chatting
over dinner

you said
I was looking thinner

I said
rotten talk for supper
on the garden I’ll be scattered

if I have a soul at all
it falls just as the apple falls

to ground

we drank our fill
I paid the bill

a silent walk

table talk