Schneeglöckchen

So early this year she

announces to nobody but a blackbird

who rattles his response. Candlemas bells and not

even Christmas. Crouching and wind-curved, she tilts a milky bud

towards her, half-blind, tight-lipped, silent in the leaf-strewn mud.

No longer seeking hope or the promise of spring, she considers

picking one, taking it in – to disprove her mother’s foreboding

of flowers for the dead. Besides, she doesn’t fear anymore, no,

sees nothing to dread from endless slumbers, snug in a clay bed.

February fair-maids, dingle-dangles, dewdrops, death’s flower.

Granny’s schneeglöckchen growing greenest of green, ringing in

spring, but this soon – with autumn leaves unscorched by frost,

unsucked by worms? Winter’s not winter anymore

she mutters, then squints at the sky, waiting

for the blackbird to offer

his reply.

 

(This poem was shortlisted for the Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival Poetry Prize 2018, judged by Alison Brackenbury – who said she loved my blackbird!)

Squirrels

Squirrels get up early when the grass is damp with dew,

they skip around on tiptoes so their paws don’t get soaked through.

They’re busy seeking conkers stashed safely since September

but squirrels seem quite scatty, and usually can’t remember…

where they carried conkers to on golden autumn days –

did they slip them under stones, or drag them to their dreys?

And so when spring has sprung, when the weather’s wet and warm,

they’ll be skipping round horse chestnut trees sprouting in my lawn.

Seashore survival

In an ever changing situation
consider well your adaptations
be you bi-valve or crustacean
could you switch from desiccation
to total salt-water hydration,
and how would you prevent predation –
could a shell be your salvation?

Children arriving for vacation
full of cheer and sheer elation
may dislodge you from your station
(it’s all part of their education)
could you survive such devastation
form a cement-like rock fixation?
It might postpone your own cessation.

So when considering incarnation
take on board this information
to succeed at seashore habitation
you must display determination
be a master of specialisation
proactive against extermination.
Good luck in your chosen destination!

 

(In fond memory of all those biology field trips, armed with quadrat and clipboard, knee deep in bladderwrack…)

 

Red day

Today is a red day, and on red days I must see ten red things
before school. My little sister may think it’s cool –
but it’s not just a game I play – no, ten red things decide my day.

So far I’ve seen 3 cars, a hot air balloon and a hot air balloon’s flame
a robin, a fox , a container train. A sunrise cloud
(more orangey red – but that’s allowed). Now time’s running out…

So everyone starts searching and tension has mounted because everyone
knows that as yet I’ve not counted:
10 RED THINGS!

Moving things, not cars on drives, things going somewhere – anything
alive, and I’m starting to wonder just how I’ll survive
if I don’t find number ten. When… little sister shouts

look at the leaves on the tree up ahead and there’s silence
as the car holds its breath. I look up to the tree
see leaves which are red, falling, and with relief whisper…
yes