Month: March 2020

Winter Again

alium blooms

As winter ends, winter starts again.
Late March warmth lies with coughs and fever,
face-grey shadows darken longer days,
and high-sky sun shines on windowless wards.
Hospital green is the season’s colour.

Garden foxes play in rose-dawn light,
rising doubt hangs in latent streets, odd wasps
drift between blossoms spreading and seeding
unwanted fruit, and the numbers explode
like purple globes of allium blooms.

Thoughts of renewal are not what they were:
first-cut strips of grass mask earth beneath
and, at a safe distance, tender leaves grieve.
Summertime begins. Winter starts again.


Nights are the worst: dark acres of time are
unfilled with anything but low noise
as cars burr along the northbound carriageway.

Mum is cold, anxious in unsettled grief.
There’s no point getting up: without him there’s
nothing to do. Days see diversions but
now, why does sitting there beat lying here?

Wide awake in darkness she heard herself
say: “Dada?” and reach out her hand. He used
to take it and warm it. This cold, Dada-less
night, as she reached for him again, he
warmed her again. The sheets softened, the noises
dissolved and she stopped thinking. She felt
him, she knew he was nearby and she slept.

The Calm before the Quiet


It is pretty ugly between Gravesend
and Stone Crossing. Puzzling through Rosherville,
to Northfleet’s exhausted ragstone quarry,
Kimberly Clark is making Andrex.

At Ebbsfleet, the footpath runs in zigzags
spanning voids and empty strips of railway
behind galvanised pikes battened by bars.

Half an hour later we see discarded
bottles of corrosive tipped in a ditch
and wild snapdragons grow beside hawthorns
spray-painted grey with exhaust-fume silt.

We take a wrong turning, re-trace our steps,
pass a builders’ merchant’s stockpile of slabs
and an elephants’ graveyard of buses.

At Greenhithe the rain comes. Soon silent Spring
will spread – not unlike the virus – and hide
hedgerow crud beneath blankets of brambles,
nettles, bindweed, storksbill and bittercress.