Mark Mayes, Ashes

Skegness

First strip of blue:
‘The sea! The sea!’
A smoke-filled car.
Nineteen-seventy.

The magic of blue
beyond the land
now lost again
as the road bends.

A town grows
around our journey.
Inflatable dolphins
hang outside shops.

We open a window.
The air is fizzy.
Do people live here,
so near a picture?

The blue strip thickens.
We trickle off down
a spongy track.
I recall coarse grass

on my leaping sole,
wet sand on skin
and the sour tang
in my sun-kissed mouth.

Silver Wand

The birch with the wind in its belly,
the wind in its throat,
caught us
in its pulse and thresh,
held us rooted
on a path,
wind struck,
windburned,
as counties fell away, fell away.

Returned

In a green rucksack
I carried the ashes
some sixty miles
to Hampstead Heath,
into the woods
he called The Spaniards.

It had been a blank time.

They half filled a lilac
plastic jar, more like a sweet jar,
with a screw-top lid.
All surprisingly heavy.

I bought red flowers
from a stand near the tube.

The ground in the woods
dipped and rose.

On a little hill
two trees grew
gradually apart.

I lifted it out,
unscrewed the lid.
After a pause,
I poured
onto wet leaves and twigs.

He made a small grey mound,
which I covered,
lay the flowers beside.

From where I stood
I saw two ponds,
rain now falling
on their surface.

re-invention

everything had grown old
lost its lustre
lost its potency
everything was tired
with too much existence

I took a mountain road
and came to a view of a city
to which I could not return

where those lights flickered
young women, young men were trying
out themselves, offering paper promises

old people were both trying and not trying
to die

up where I found myself
trees and plants grew uncommon
and the rocks had no words for me

I took a sip from the skin
wiped my hand over my hardening lips
the taste was of dark cherries

I squinted ahead –
the track led nowhere I could name
the track lost itself
in the ribbon of itself

Questions and Flowers

Where did you go,
into earth into flame?

Who knows you there,
who gives you water?

When you awoke,
did you know yourselves?

The wind frets
your blue stone;
the feral
disfigure your seat.

Soon the flowers again,
paid for at a distance,
in twice-yearly remembrance;
that wave where a foreign tongue
beseeches: sleep in heavenly peace.

Mark Mayes has had numerous poems and stories published over the years in magazines and anthologies. 2017 saw the publication of his novel The Gift Maker (Urbane). He has just completed a second novel as well as a collection of short stories. Mark also loves to write songs. To read more of Mark, click here.

 

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