© 2019 by John Edmondson

vows

 

I walked

a thousand beaches

and brought home

finely sanded stones

bones and shells

not knowing

what to do with them

 

I laid them out

and felt them

smelt them

talked to them

from time to time

of beauty and betrayal

 

one day I swore “no more”

and swept them all away

bar one

 

I saw a perfect

globe of quartz today

sea-rolled

smooth as skin

cool as an eye

another near it

white as a tooth

and a round stone

with a ring of crystals

reddish brown

like dried blood

or old old wine

 

I touched them with my lips

and tasted tears

Under Orion

 

The night is cold and clear.

I see each pinprick on the sword,

flinch at the wind

swishing past the pane.

 

The year is old and tired.

The last of its moons is spent,

its silver gone.

My shoulders ache.

 

The black is hunted from the sky

as day begins to rise.

I breathe your breath

and feel my blood run bold again.

Cold front

 

The arguments

rage all day,

too complex, lies, not fair.

I storm out of the house.

 

Halfway down the pier

I stop for breath.

No one ahead of me.

Just the precise angle

 

in the carved blocks

where it turns right

and the cry of the gull

flailing against the grey wind.

 

A late sunny patch

picks out the lighthouse at the end.

Its crisp edges and curves

radiate truth and constancy.

 

Its master mason

whispers from a pauper’s grave:

the depression will soon be past

but I wish for the end of weather.

visit

 

scattered across the table

chunks of blue sea or sky

float between strips of edge

which don’t join up

like last time and the one before

I can’t tear my eyes away

from the few clear fragments

of a face, a grey wall

he forces a piece into place

pulls others apart

maybe some are lost forever

maybe they’re not even his

the slow grey travelator

the day you finished

your last glass of Graves

someone protected

unshrivelled vines from frost 

you saw the final daffodils

brought into the ward

as someone worked on

packaging for next year’s bulbs

the sun’s late heat shrank

from your wrinkled skin

and turned to warm the brows

of moai on Easter Island

you step off the walkway

in the terminal

while well behind you

someone else strides on

 

 

probably tonight

 

I will not sleep

I‘ll fill the hours

till dawn

with routine chores

wash the dishes

prepare a dinner

iron clothes

start my taxes

and sometime

between one breath

and another

will fall your last

Glide of time

 

The purple you had chosen

for the pebbledash

seems less vibrant.

A sheet of marine ply

shrouds the broken door.

Inside, the air smells the same,

a clock ticks and all’s still there

as if you’d gone for milk.

 

It takes a while before we start.

Sweeping away detritus of

junk mail, Major and Olanzapine,

the bins are filled within an hour.

We gather a trove of papers

riddled with puns, rhymes

and curlicues with phrases

rich enough to stop your heart.

As we leave, a final creak

makes us turn. The house settles.

 

A few steps away, two lovers greet,

easy on the leafy street.