Mudflat Archive

The barn owl is an ancient vector
on the post in the blue silence
It slips a million years between
thin bones and structures of feather –
A predator engineered by galaxy –
Mudflats in the estuary pop and click
with the worms’ horrific cryptography –
Oyster Catchers read it as they pick
scraps from the crab corpse in the pool
then are torn from the sand by desire.
Tunneling into the cliff, the sea pops
and clicks rocks against recorded time
and daylight in the tunnel sketches webs
on the vault-line of the limestone –
Striations of land are sunk into the coast
the marsh holds a sheep skeleton –
The lady joins the doomed Gawain,
topless and expecting courtesy

We are ancient predators –
our eyes scan the front and the field
shifts and pulls towards us –
folds in the land are held straight
by our mind whose horizon is fixed
even while the body scrambles –
The lord of the castle leaves Gawain
to trek a last trek to the the rock chapel
in the green-black velvet valley –
cold in the morning – the horse
shifts and breathes under them –
the image of a single carrot impressed
into the horse-mind network
Mist lifts off the sweating body of the hills –
Sleep is slight like ice on a puddle –
We could not climb the stair quietly
the wood would crack and souls stir
stilling erratic movement of the eyeball

We remember dreams – of snakes
coiled around us, writhing on the bed –
of a silent goblin, watching, still,
until he fades – and tales of animals –
bouldering to find an adder nest
suddenly, and the shock was great –
a spider hides in the folds of a bag.
The engine pops and clicks as it cools
as the road humps over the land
holding us fixed, as the earth moves.
Swallows pop and click on the wires –
Geiger counters of each other’s name.
We are naked under these clothes –
she said it herself and I can feel it –
Scars on the land of the robes –
A bird warbles and beeps frantically –
then the fell runner whose hooves
scar the peat in flight from the lord’s hunt

Swallows struck from silver hang
in the sky like the bright moon
beyond three embracing drops in glass
and the black slate of the belfry –
the university where someone sits
in the library, feet up, on the phone –
and thrift clings to the rock pool –
small purple flowers held
for convolutional identification –
I hold the hand of an ancient woman
to help her through a gate and see
the old post office by the field.
We pass her later on the way
“I did think you would catch me”
I hold a red layered geode
someone had cracked on the beach
I hold a stone like a bearded capuchin
and bring it down to pop and click
rocks on the hard edged beach

My friends, there is no end
though the sun will soon expand
and the earth be smoothed
by the weight of the turbulent sea
There is no end – the habitable zone
will slip beyond us as we cling
by thrift, like thrift to the rock –
We might build a planet engine
to shift whole seas to tack our orbit
or we might not – it changes nothing
You want to preserve us forever
but we are preserved – I declare it
We are archived of ourselves
of this moment – I archive us.
Now tie these greens around your waist
and watch the grass move under cows
who carefully avoid (though they kiss)
the bluebells

V.130

Sometimes the heaviest reading
is the lightest – you understand?
Threading a needle envelops
the whole of us, a subtle task –

It is not a wetted slide down
in bright acrylic tubes to pools
It is a staircase and each step
slightly differs in height. Slowness

is an active ideal. I read
the day we spent in Dunstanburgh
and it is complex. Razor bills
and Shags patrol the ruined keep

in the darkness while the basalt
is thrashed by the waves. A staircase
starts halfway up a ruined stack –
The last person to take those stairs

was some unnamed and lost servant.
Yellow gorse patches over hills
which spread to the damp horizon
and fields of rapeseed glow and grow

We have steps to take and relearn
as heat passes into the sky
over the bookshop. And your kiss
stumps me like distant history

V.96 Nightingale I

In the fume of the late world, I
lie in bed awake. Two o’clock
I turn the light off, finally
to end another day, and sleep.

A whistle, I hear, a trilling
out at the top of the north town –
The air is mild at autumn’s end
and a nightingale is singing.

I am opened up wide by it
I think of waking the whole house
Shouting to the street night, get up
a soft event is occurring.

Open in the window, with cool
air playing on my back, I hold
the phone with its small ear outward
Hoping to give my tired parents

sign of a small brown bird, city
bird now, or lost. I am awake
due to anxious spurrings, a world
that is inexplicable. Sleep

had it taken me, I don’t think
would have had resource to rival
this surprise which is beauty, and
banishes fear. If for a time

Duck

Does any animal float as well?
Resting on this peel of thickness
pedalling slowly, and honking

Duck taught the angels
how to fly – see them now
by the barrage, watching for tips –

just put your face in your armpit
and hang there, careless –
that is how to go about it.

Lessons such as that.
And how to remain calm
in the face of such rain

After duck stands up, wrings out his coat
he waves to the angels, who nod abashed
and calmly floats off into the sky

Magpie

All the other birds have fled
disturbed, as a magpie makes perch
upon the dirt-dust iron hook
where a selection of old nuts hang

His blue gaze is hammer and nails
as he fixes me in place, and then
stabs a hanging half coconut shell
repeatedly. Full of fat and gristle,

the carrion hang on the feeders
was not there ’til he arrived, and now
as he flies, he leaves behind
a small lamb whose eyes are gone.

Another one now takes a turn.
Her clean beak is too soon soiled –
she flies guiltily off. And I,
I watch the clean bones drop.

As for the flak of trembling feather –
they learned as much as they watched
in turn, they flap to floor and search
and slurp up all the fallen scraps