I struggle to balance your words on a silver tray.
They tinkle. I fear for a smash and splinters.
Shuffling along trying to match the spring in your step
all the time looking up, keeping my head in the air,
I have filled each one with a drop of something.
A pinch more? Does the ﬂavour seem right?
The scent? Mixing them to a different shade
none is quite as you would have made them.
Shyly, I raise my tray to you. An offering on tin,
buckling a little beneath the weight.
On the desk a bible in Welsh is open at the Psalms
and like the woman who arrived with a pheasant
and sat to pluck it on the summer lawn – the feathers
taken by the wind to the four corners of the earth
as the naked bird stiffened on the grass –
so I knock at the door of this language, its double dds
and double lls, its simmering beauty, and hear how
to baste and roast it to plump goodness,
the house herby and steamy with new ﬂavours,
sharing the succulent dish with any who would try.
Her Wish for Big Windows
is a denial of swaddling, coddling winter warmth
of hearth and home and the drawing of curtains
in small pretty rooms with their interesting beams
she wants an expanse of rippling glass to show up
cobwebs, bleed the carpet, stripe and strip the spines of books,
hers is the need for a spill, swash, swill of light
never mind the long shady season that is to come,
the shortness of days that no clock can turn back,
each casement, every sash will open wide in that house
the brilliant air will bathe and soothe her smiling, waiting face.
When you see it, you know the truth of it,
it is the everyday cast as our tomorrows,
as if the sturdy sweetness of a jug of cream
had burst into song,
rose of the dawn sky, blue of the starless,
cloud and diamond,
lustre caught in a rim of gold, it is Home
pitched out into the world in its best dress.
It is everyday and it is tomorrow
and when you see it, you know its truth.
The Blue Willow and the Indian Tree
It’s all there in the inﬂorescence,
the ancient tree of life, the lovers
who try to run from family ties,
the fast-ﬂowing water, the bridge.
Our families crossed continents
in tableware, their Delft, their China,
a story, their story a mystery and overhead always
the birds, wheeling, calling, waiting to land.
11 Her Wish for Big Windows
12 Gaudy Welsh
13 The Blue Willow and the Indian Tree
14 Uncle Tom Writes Home
20 Casey, Cullen & the Eighth
21 Tending the Border
23 A Ruined Castle in Wales
24 Some Things Learnt at Lumb Bank
25 The Rosebud at Jane Austen’s House
26 At the Minster Gate Bookshop
27 L’Heure Bleue
28 Redhead by the Side of the Road
29 Ghost Writer
30 At Orchard House
32 Mayday in Ravenna
33 Come Fill the Cup
35 Unacknowledged Legislators
36 Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
39 A Year in Mr Inoue’s Haiku
40 Fine Wind, Clear Morning
41 Song in an Old Tradition
43 Counting Down
45 Hard Shoulder
46 The Forests of South London
48 Autumn in the Absent Elms
50 The Unforgotten
51 By Way of Kensal Green
52 In the Blue Vase
53 Did You Know Ann Atkinson?
54 A Haunted House
55 I’ve Been Thinking a Lot About Heaven
56 Five Fifty-Five
57 A Bunch of Consolation
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