What a wild eye of water coved in by trees.
Hours at a time you squatted in mud,
sieving the tiny mangroves of the surface.
Usually the catch was skidding water
boatmen and dowsed red beetles,
but once a dead toad bulged against the net
like a misdesigned trapeze artist.
Returned to those woods now, the leaves
fluttering gill-like with light,
you feel the air chafing your face.
The pond has iced over. You step on;
it fails to break. Hungry birds
must be gathering in boughs, you think,
cold and empty flasks.
Toads must be sinking into flowerpots,
making a saviour of sleep. And you?
You are a dragonfly that has lived too long.
The cat stops clawing the riddled support beam,
throws a couple of coins, her eyes, from the landing.
Through the window at the bottom of the stairs:
a slice of stars - perhaps a gang of alleycats
turned angels. Dogwood trembles at the pane.
Her ears are two spikes on a heart monitor.
A groan from the unformed gloom: someone treading
onto the tiny sleeping bear of the bottom step.
Silence. The sky is looked at. The sky looks down.
Another step squeaks; she folds herself into one muscle.
No rodent emerges. Nothing for some time except
a slow patter from the adjoining corridor,
an amnesia of craneflies dabbling with pyrotechnics
next to a low open bulb. The night is a bat
and you are its elsewhere, its meat-by-sonar.
Miles away. A cup of tea slops in your hand
as you climb the staircase, steady, steady,
and drop the mug at the scratch of a rake above.
One slip with the shears; your palm
grins up from the sink where the tap's
endless tongue is intent
on a French kiss. The plughole gurgles.
You were standing on the paving slab,
snipping privet away in clumps.
The stone wobbled, clinked,
and you remembered the well underneath,
the dank tunnel you disinterred
years ago for a peek at the drop's
glimmer of water, and to draw
a half-glass of its foetid drink.
From here, it looks as if you've cut
a winking face into the hedge Ð
eyes, nose, a hint of ears,
the slab's O of mock surprise.
Dear Lord what is light
if not form love if not
At wood's edges a muntjac nudges free
of the sun
into the slant pupils of trees.
But no annihilation of self.
I am wary of water my wrists stigmata
the treacle of pines.
I am wary of rain's
goldrush into fields.
scoop scattered teeth.
They always fall out.
Rain always falls out
of the mud's horizon.
No annihilation of self. No
use looking in mirrors
for loved ones
looking in ice
under false pretences.
the well imprisons the clouds.
at the aura of buttercups
nuzzling the chin.
Dear Lord how did I see
in the stomped puddle and
what did I see?
You building a shrine
of flowers and burning it hopeful.
© James Midgley