Wednesday 9 January 2013



(commended by Gillian Clarke at Poetry on the Lake in 2012).

He leads her in the dance above
flat lily-pads and mirrored sky.
He clasps her thorax with his tail
lifts her up, lets her down
to dip and dip and dip her eggs
through the meniscus.

This is their glorious time
laid down in their DNA
was what they both were dreaming of
when as brown nymphs with mandibles
and ugly masks they crept and lurked
among minnows and frondy weeds.

All through that watery year
they dreamt of a day in June
when they’d escape, crawl up a reed,
slough the brittle carapace
push out four glittering wings
and fly! Fly! Fly!

They’ve done their time below
no longer need to grow
but hover shimmy  whir
beneath the sky and show
their sapphires to the world
and make love in the air.

Aird Mor

Aird Mor

At the back of a cave discreetly screened
by a curtain of watery lace
a hind lies on her side, legs stiff
with blackened tongue and vacant eye.

Beneath her tail in vain protrude
two perfect, pointed, cloven hooves.

She should have torn his caul away,
licked clean his nostrils, eyes and mouth
and nudged at him to stand  then felt
the triumph of first milk, his greed
as gums clamped onto brimming teats.

She should have led him through wet drapes
into the sun, the glittering. The shush and pull
of heaving sea, the piping cry
of Bridget’s birds; and shown him how
to tread his way on shingle shore and shale
between the cliff and twisting waves.

Whose heart stopped first? Her unborn fawn?
Or did the hind give up the fight,
while he still struggled to reach the light?

The pain - rolling in waves - subsides.
Blinds drawn down over her eyes.
The plashing of water fades and dies.