100 Slices
Medium 9781847778512


Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847778512

Sheila na Gig at Kilpeck

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

Pain’s a cup of honey in the pelvis.

She burns in the long, hot afternoon, stone

among the monstrous nursery faces

circling Kilpeck church. Those things we notice

as we labour distantly revolve

outside her perpetual calendar.

Men in the fields. Loads following the lanes,

strands of yellow hair caught in the hedges.

The afternoon turns round us.

The beat of the heart a great tongue in its bell,

a swell between bone cliffs; restlessness

that sets me walking; that second sight

of shadows crossing cornfields. We share

premonitions, are governed by moons

and novenas, sisters cooling our wrists

in the stump of a Celtic water stoup.

Not lust but long labouring

absorbs her, mother of the ripening

barley that swells and frets at its walls.

Somewhere far away the Severn presses,

alert at flood-tide. And everywhere rhythms

are turning their little gold cogs, caught

in her waterfalling energy.

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Heron at Port Talbot

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

Snow falls on the cooling towers

delicately settling on cranes.

Machinery’s old bones whiten; death

settles with its rusts, its erosions.

Warning of winds off the sea

the motorway dips to the dock’s edge.

My hands tighten on the wheel against

the white steel of the wind.

Then we almost touch, both braking flight,

bank on the air and feel that shocking

intimacy of near-collision,

animal tracks that cross in snow.

I see his living eye, his change of mind,

feel pressure as we bank, the force

of his beauty. We might have died

in some terrible conjunction.

The steel town’s sulphurs billow

like dirty washing. The sky stains

with steely inks and fires, chemical

rustings, salt-grains, sand under snow.

And the bird comes, a surveyor

calculating space between old workings

and the mountain hinterland, archangel

come to re-open the heron-roads,

meets me at an inter-section

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Font de Gaume

Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847778512


Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

When their time comes they fall

without wind, without rain.

They seep through the trees’ muslin

in a slow fermentation.

Daily the low sun warms them

in a late love that is sweeter

than summer. In bed at night

we hear heartbeat of fruitfall.

The secretive slugs crawl home

to the burst honeys, are found

in the morning mouth on mouth,


We spread patchwork counterpanes

for a clean catch. Baskets fill,

never before such harvest,

such a hunters’ moon burning

the hawthorns, drunk on syrups

that are richer by night

when spiders are pitching

tents in the wet grass.

This morning the red sun

is opening like a rose

on our white wall, prints there

the fishbone shadow of a fern.

The early blackbirds fly

guilty from a dawn haul

of fallen fruit. We too

breakfast on sweetnesses.

Soon plum trees will be bone,

grown delicate with frost’s

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