When the city exhausts you, when your marriage
is raw, and the young one cannot help himself
but drive you somewhere in,
pull back a while,
and take in mind the train ride into Anglia,
its northward draw across the muds at Manningtree,
where tide is tipping at the breach, the swans at gyre,
the sunlight slamming off the water
and into your eyes,
till you shield them for the longer view,
for what lies out on the river’s rope,
the sea loosened and at call,
your breath hauling within you,
woken from the carriage into light.
Published in Literary Review, July 2017
Then, when we have remembered to forget,
you will trouble me again to follow you
across three shires and a river’s source
and over the steepest pass – late
in a year like this, when the weather
is hard at the hem of the car,
and I steady the wheel, reminded of my place,
and look down on the scarp with its paper-
clip turns, the tyres quarrying for grip;
hard to make sense of, but I descend
gladdened and breathless, rushed with life,
yet partly cheated, half wanting to be blown
to the corners of beyond – late
on a day like this, at the waters
of the deepest lake, when the clouds are filthy
and wind rips down the scree, and I turn to face,
seeking myself in the chamber of this;
when something like my own life
comes thundering over the water towards me.
Published in New Statesman, 18 June 2017
The Wife's Lament
from the Anglo Saxon
I make this song from a sad self,
my own journey. Many are the sorrows
since childhood, but no more than now,
my endless exile.
Lord, my lord,
far over the seas, your people forsaken
since you went I know not where, and I woke
unhappy and alone; though I did as you asked –
walked friendless into hiding.
But your kinsman schemed
of breaking our wedlock – he, whom I took
for a friend, has put a lie between us.
I followed your bidding, went where you wanted,
where the friends were few, and found one who mirrored me,
a trusted one, who beneath his care,
had a murderous mind.
You made me a vow.
You said that nothing on this earth should divide us, save dying.
And that has changed, as if never spoken.
Now I fear that you would take my name,
would harm me on the words of a false friend.
You sent me into a wooded grove
under an oak tree, a roof of roots,
an earth-hall held with longing.
Unlit valleys, a towering peak,
hamlets overcome with thorns –
here, your absence held me.
Some people on this earth wake close to one another,
are together at dawn, but not us;
I go alone, carrying for you,
in a lifetime of days.
Always in youth
is a sadness that must wear itself within,
the same for freeman as outlaw.
wherever this may find you – weary and waitsome,
in some hollow place or distant shore,
you will remember, how it was
before the sorrow came.
No good love comes of longing.
Published in The Rialto, Autumn 2016