Florian Rose, On the bare hill

On the bare hill

There was no possibility of rest.
Rest was death.
They were born to move
until the last lifting of ribs
and the falling back.

Let’s stop for a while, he said,
catch our breath,
and the dying show of sunset.

She moved her mind
into his mind,
felt about,
took his hand.

They stared from a high hill
at a paintbox
thrown against the sky,
at colours slowly moving down
beyond the borders of dark.

White boats

Some last things kept
in two boxes, wrapped in cloth
and tied with string;
we let all fall to dark water
on the last day of a year;
and the river took them,
rushing like a daughter
to a falling star.

The iron bridge
is trod in kind,
like that bridge
in far country
before a war
that made me.

Your grandmother calls
a child in you
back for tea and family,

as my grandmother
called her daughter
to come from a river
and was not heard,
not then,
now not ever.

White boats,
gleefully awkward,
ride the black plundering
stream and turn
and are not snagged
and live in flow
until time releases
our soft light minds.

There’s no place

No way back to you now
except by burglary;
on Google Maps I see you
with other curtains,
a strange vase on a windowsill,
the slouching motorbike
on the pavement outside.

Someone’s thrown up
an eight-foot fence
halfway down the drive,
on which I counted stones
across long Junes.

The side and front hedges
are more or less the same;
years’ growth and cutting no betrayal.
Such reliable leaves.

Even on Facebook
I could track the photos
of strangers in our rooms;
in your rooms, Mum and Dad,
where you waited for the lottery results,
where you bickered over lent cigarettes,
where the Christmas tree glowed
over paper plates of nuts and chocolates.

I want them blasted out,
those legitimate interlopers;
but money was paid
and a growing-up erased
by dint of illness,
by necessity of a scattering
of memory and mind.

Love lived there
amid the enmity,
the brittle struggle for peace;
and all their effort
in drudge work
to keep it going,
to pay through those forty years
of mental burden
and physical decay.
To own, as you joked, Dad,
all that land.

And here you find
on Rightmove
a history of its value,
where yet newer cuckoos
stare through windows
polished by lost hands –

through which I still see your
faces – expectant, relieved;
as if none of this could finally
change.

Florian Rose has recently started writing poems again, after a break of some years. He also reads widely, and enjoys long walks by the seaside.

 

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