Lucky the man
who listens
to Monteverdi,
who walks
out the quiet lane
‘Lamento della Ninfa’
in his head and finds 
the hedgerow yellow
with wild primrose,
the stones a maze
for the spider, the fields
undulating with ewes
and their soot-faced
soot-eared young.

Lucky the man who
hears the pheasant rising
high over Hunt’s field
and is startled as much by it
as the tenor
singing in soprano
the poem of another man
writing as a woman
in the seventeenth century –
complex and beautiful
like dust-mites he sees
falling down now
through the sun’s rays.



for my mother

Whoever says the world
cannot be stilled
by a bird,
has not been here
in this dark gallery,
not knelt on the late
afternoon floor
and gently pulled
frames forward,
seen images
speeding by
like the old flick books
we loved as children -
the head of a dead poet,
those dark shawls
of Markey’s women
in the West.
Until suddenly
your world
is stilled
by this bird -
quirky, tufted thing
proud in charcoal,
flown over forty years
from studio to home
and now landed
in this city gallery.
Such faded wood
frames him,
and his cover
is such chipped
and mottled glass.
And yet your world
is stilled by this
that flapped from
Jan de Fouw’s hand
when you were young
with your small children
and did not know how
you would make it to here
or that this bird would fly
forever in search of you,
his head flung westward,
his speckled heart beating
until there is nothing left
but you and the bird -
quirky, tufted thing
that stills this place.



How our hands swayed through
reeds today, brushing against joy -
the curlew calling us on in single file,
the others back in the cottage and us free,
marvelling at how we’d got this far, our voices
rising clear along the soggy path to the jetty,
the lake rippling with rudd and perch.
What comes next we can only guess,
can only wonder at where we are now,
at the top of this green, sloping field,
the quiet inside of us growing.

poet's biography ->