We’re back with our seventh studio album
after a five-year hiatus our keyboard player
my childhood sweetheart and co-song writer
having left us for a model and a solo career
but the songs I’ve written since his departure
are full of treachery and turmoil and complicated
chord sequences and have brought us a whole new
generation of teenage followers and now we’re on
the road and I’m having the best sex of my life
with our drummer who’s in the best shape
of his life after giving up drugs and alcohol
and red meat and taking up long distance running
and our female lead guitarist who’s also always
been in love with me is consumed with jealousy
and passion and this is being translated into guitar
solos which are up there with the best of them
and tickets for our show are changing hands
for thousands of pounds and I even find it
in my heart to speak well of my ex-husband
and his disappointing solo albums in interviews
and the critics? The critics all say I’m at the height
of my powers and my voice has never been richer.
In which ‘if she has not a man in the house before the month is out, it is likely the little bit of land will be given to another’
My brother arrives with firewood
or as he says a useful table.
His sons walk the wrong way to the site
and they move the stones.
He tells me to stop worrying
and leaves in his hatchback.
I look up from the stones. The sky is red,
the horizon and path flicker
like a distant shop.
The conifers form a hex. Where I bow
them down they spring up again.
In which Hanrahan keeps bees
(shall I read a book?)
Books might stop the stories
that fall from his mouth.
(Loose teeth, sea winds,
The glade has been harvested
for brooms and hollyhocks
look back for no-one.
He parts the cards and the moons
wax and wane.
His hands are young again as hazel.
Mum crawls from the deck
followed by a swarm of drones.
I take any book and read out.
I turn onto my front holding on
to the bottom of the boat.
He takes my palm like a map and says
he will build my box
out of fallen trees.
last night you sang to my body
praised every inch of it
made it feel rare and royal
spoke to it the way you might speak
to a child in need of self
esteem taking time on each part
the mouth and the tongue
the nipples and the chest
praising the severity
of the circumcision and how I
talked to the older couple
in the bar who had been praising
my father I’d thought my body
dull and base I’d thought it loose
and wilted from the weight loss
but you composed hymns to it
cleaned it bowed down before it
as though it might spare you
The government paid a lady in London
to pick the leaves one by one
from the lime trees in Parliament Square.
Did she use fingers or secateurs?
we wondered aloud. You got in the car.
The sky darkened to vinegar.
Where you were, the weather rolled
out its cloud quadrant absentmindedly,
like a screensaver, the air tense and full,
as if an elastic band held the horizon
edges at odds and yet as one.
Think of all the things I thought
but never said aloud; toughening
on my tongue like thick, pink shoots.
I introduced myself as Rachel to a stranger
at the library, when we reached for the same copy
of The New Encyclopedia of Birds. I apologised
in a way Rachel would have apologised: prone
to genuflection. I let him take the book and wedge it
under his armpit so he could bend for his umbrella
just as I was telling him my name was Rachel,
but he turned and headed for the Loans desk. I decided
that as Rachel, I wasn’t interested in birds after all,
and anyway, I didn’t have a library card signed by Rachel
in black felt-pen, so I hit the big, circular button with a picture
of a wheelchair on it, and waited for the doors to open fully.
I walked around the town, in rain that fell as if it was undecided
about its volume. Scant bursts would be the best way
to describe it, had someone telephoned, and after I’d said
Hello, this is Rachel speaking, told them about the weather.
the ground still
wet underfoot isn’t it
0 a comfort
that the blue light from your television
will be alive on the lid of it all
your chest a little more
0 swollen, just knowing that
the grass will be no more or less green
or brown and the coffee will still cool
0 too quickly tomorrow
which is a marriage of sea and birds.
Saints are all about her. Herring and mackerel
flit from the frothing nets of underskirts.
As it drips, the dress has many moods –
more than velvet, more than silk.
It is a ruffled dress, a dress in which to swim,
a dress in which others pray. It is a dress
of some import, a dress which reels
through her arms, covers and uncovers her head.
As the tidal collars retreat, choughs fix their nests
in her windy hair, their bright legs and beaks
ornament. This is a dress for accordians and fiddles.
This is a dress for a storm – a dress of gold and white,
and blue and red, and black. In this dress,
she senses she is half-Christian, believes
in the old names – those she loved,
those she lost – Alef, Cadoc, Dungarth, Salomon.
With the itch against her skin, she lets
the fabric fall, becomes mythology. Landscape.