Seal Wife

The weather turns.
A wind from the north has flown in,
with its violent curse,
and it raises the waves
till I cannot shut out their yowling.

The old scars itch on my flank,
The hairs on my spine rise up
in the chill that presses
itself under the door,
an insinuating ghost.

The cat has wound herself
to an endless running
from one end of the house to the other,
poor bristling devil.

The grass is aching with frost.
Birds fall, small toys,
from the trees in their deaths.
The cold is murderous.

In the churchyard, the drowned
walk at noon as if it were night.
They return to old beds,
slip in by their frozen wives.

And I am numbing myself
with my baking, my stitching, by washing
the floors till the stone begins to thin.
I hide my face from the mirror:
its enquiry threatens.
If I could forget, the water could not claim me.


Lir’s Children

The lake’s dark. Its mists
have fingers. Last year, it drowned a girl.
The water cleans her bones, lapping like cats.

We float and are cold.
Our feet catch like oars in the weed.
Time passes slowly when you have no words.

It is hard to accustom oneself
to a diet of tubers, of submerged plants,
to the weight and prickle of feathers.

We are white and still.
When we dive, it is gloomy and bony.
When we fly,

we ascend from a kingdom’s cares,
a father’s mourning.
Our wings batter the sky. We shake off the water
like stars.



Shuffling dissatisfactions like my pack of cards,
I comb my hair. It is white,
fills the night like a vapour.

I arise
with a cry like an owl, like a child,
like a woman, who is not a woman, quite,

but the bones of your future.
In a silence that brims with shadow, that quivers
like water, I unreel myself

on the skein of my voice, my keening.
I am washing your bloody linen –
will it never be wholesome?

I am calling to warn you. I frighten
the birds from sleep but I fear
you do not listen.


Peter, The Wild Boy

I have no words but words are not everything.
There are stones. There is water.
These must mean something.
Even in a house
there are stones and water.

Darkness is a happening:
it signifies something.
They can stop darkness.
They make heat appear.
I think this must mean they have stolen the meanings.

I had nothing at all but I sense
they have taken something.
In walls it is harder to hear the cry of the morning.
It is harder to smell the light,
the flat sun rising.
It is harder to taste the blood
of hot trees rising.

There are secret things here.
The small things still scurrying,
grey mice eating, mating, racing, dying.
Nobody sees the little mice like I can.

I am not mice,
of course. I am not like anything.
The men here are all ignorant
men like children.
They have never heard the pulse that runs
under everything.
They have never heard their own blood
ticking, ticking.

I am blood and bones in a sack.
I can hold this something.
I can taste the blood when I bite.
It is everything, everything.



He will not go quietly, this old red autumn.
The sunsets burn like flares at the horizon.
The air is weighted with the stink of pyres.
Blight makes the leaves surrender, dry and fall.

The river has unseamed the banks and risen
across the fields, made moats around the trees.
Above the mountain, the clouds coagulate.
They turn themselves to blackness, choke the stars.

And we, revolving in our draughty heaven,
dwindle like wasps when winter thins their stores.
I will see you again on the other side of the water.
Our sustenance will be the morning dew.