A Visit to Sylvia Plath’s Grave
Seeds of grass, pods of a clock
rock in the wind which picks up
and the dog barks once – we climbed
up green cobblestone steep street
and playground to Heptonstall
saw the abandoned ship drift
along a gravestone sea-path
and bump against the present.
It talked, the wind, it said words
from a wind tongue, softly, out
of itself in hidden verses.
A button is enough, placed
In her dirt. Sigh with the breeze,
over the empty space
The river never rests – pushed
by its own waters, it runs
pulled forward with earth-mass speed
round the bend in the land depth,
and at every moment, rain
sinks from the hills around – ends
with a collapse, its own path.
It is so fast and soundless
this – small orgasm of force
trillionfold, rumble drowned.
So perfectly the river
is loved by the rainfall – I
would have such friends
The Red Kite is a bird of prey which was almost wiped out by landlords with rifles, and then soulless egg collectors. It was saved by some thoughtful people in a campaign against their stupidity. Now it can be seen all over West Yorkshire again. This poem is about the first time I saw one as I walked nearby Harewood.
Carefully she offers control to the currents
as her eye glides up over furrows –
never overcorrecting, she appears
when she means to, clears the barren treetops
and fastens some fur between her beak and the ground.
Her predator’s presence in the city shows
she retains the perfection of ages –
and rats, nested in stubborn woodland patches
sing of her soundings to their children, of days
of sudden pain when scraps and salvage end.
I was deprived of her, by the lords.
Eggs, whose skin could crackle like woodfire
instead were fixed alone, under glass –
as a nobler blood stained the tree-forks.
Their keening night-cry declared the time.
And silence slowly took to the skies while I was born
as the hill-wind began to forget a part of itself.
No longer the slip and slither of air around wing –
only the crow’s desperate gasping and magpie chitter.
I did not know that anything was missing.
Then, one day as we walked amongst the drizzle
along a long drystone wall, I followed her hand
which gestured up. How can it be, that a few dark specks
and their swoopings, complete the sky?
I felt this, and mum smiled to see me smile.
Those limestone souls, a crowd surge at the gates
where wooden worm-nourishing beams, deny
a crossing of the red river – useless names,
given fresh to the mason master-puppeteer;
Sitting squat, one arm outstretched, and sly
squinting for the sea-spray, grim eyes dripping –
complacent – they tempt to a certain joy, lit
as the moon brings a cawing custom to hope.
But chaos, in its own self certitude
sways slowly forth in undulations of infinite patience
caressing those lucky ones inside
and more are lost, soft names dissolving
as the waiting hollows reveal their shapes, and the less
in turn await their pockmarking