Escape of the Lammas Hireling
I thought when he married her all would be well,
that her poor torn mind would rest in the cream
of his love and his acres. His little March hare,
he called her, which was kinder than most.
But he knew her to be a creature of sky
and hills, of marshes and dreaming stones,
felt her loneliness knit with his own.
“I’m carrying a hare inside me,” she said
in confession. “For I’ve sinned with the wind.” I wanted
her sane, content, a good wife, wanted
her held while the sun shone clear and the grass,
dew-heavy, grew golden-green for his cows.
But she died giving birth, and yes there were rumours
of a long-legged baby with prominent eyes.
But shoulders hunched, he got on with the jobs
of burying them, tending the cattle, forgetting.
I was glad when the new man came. Distraction,
I thought, from his solitude. They can talk about cows.
This instead. The new man gone
to a better post. And him running after
her through the bogs and the reed-beds of madness.
Mary full of grace intercede for him
yet again. For his meadows lie withered and white
while his poor torn mind leaps wild with the hares.
Miss Roberta Frost and The Owls
She’s so used to being acquainted with each night
when all’s black through her windows flecked with rain
that gleam like trays of engagements rings with light
when she can no longer pause, stare down the lane,
its leafless trees, fields emptied of sugar beet,
passed by the one she hopes will come to explain.
All she hears is the pad of shoes as her feet
climb the stairs to undress, lie still, and the cry
of an owl cruising its familiar street
of air, unseen, always aware, no good-bye
to her but telling its mate where it is: height
and distance while it ghosts the empty sky
then it answers a call, turns. It’s still alright
to hear voices, find where she is in the night.
Somewhere in the family,
When we buried Grandma,
they came from all over:
second cousin this,
distant relative that.
But that bloke?
East End and Essex.
Celebrating the life
of an old babushka.
But where was he from?
arriving in such a car.
And in a yellow one.
Was it hired,
just to make a splash?
Or was that his very own
ostentatious vehicular transportation,
Joni Mitchell sang
about a Big Yellow Taxi.
But to turn up
at a cockney cemetery
in a yellow Rolls Royce.
There’s a sound like cows. Deep, mournful lowing.
It’s coming from me. Now, here, on this floor,
Kneeling, my body’s Christ’s cave – will nobody roll away
The boulder? Do I have to do this all by myself?
I am battling with anguish. I do not want the still,
Concerned face of my husband, the midwife’s talk.
I am riding a rocking horse out to sea.
Then, at last, you come. You slide from me,
Slippery water creature. I am suddenly here
And so are you – throwing cries like splintered glass.
Someone lays you on my belly. I stroke your face.
‘Hello,’ I say. Amazingly you turn to me.
Your eyes are two blue stars. ‘I am your Mother,’
I say, believing it. I breathe, tasting the new world.