When you dance

When you dance it’s as if
you gather the music
into yourself,
into the softness
of your diaphragm and belly,
and smear it through your body,
along the long cords of you —
tendons, neurons, axons, veins
spine, lungs, bowels, hips —
and extrude it down the pipes of your lean limbs.

When you dance you keep your arms
straight by your sides, point and wag
and jerk your hands,
quiver your body like a zephyred leaf,
and stare at your feet, which you shuffle.

When you dance it’s as if your legs
and arms
and eyes
are pulled toward ground
by the music’s grand
unified force. In all my life

you’re the only one
I’ve ever met
who dances
like that.

First published in my chapbook q finger (PressPress, March 2011).

Foxy Lady

She is small and full of glee,
a laugh made of bone and bright fluff
Her fur is soft, brown, long,
spiked out not as punk but as puff
When I come to her gate she dips and jumps
and speaks with yaps and yips that shine in the air
She runs to me and sniffs my knees,
looks up with bronze eyes full of hug
and hope for a treat and a pat and a rub
of tum and a stroke of back, which, of course,
she’ll get.

Brave, beautiful, beloved

(Portrait of Rita)

Commissioned 2009. This work may not be reproduced by any process, including printing, without permission.

In all she did, she loved. The glow of her!
Her Welsh voice, its gentle lilts and rolls
a balmy pool with bubbles, waves and ripples.
Her lipstick-pretty mouth. Her peach-bloom cheeks.
Her neatly cultured brows and bright brown eyes —
a sigh of velvet candle flames, not stars.

Her hair like gold-dust spread on gleaming water,
glinting like her jewelled wrists and throat
and fingers, their nails lacquered and shaped,
dreamily draped yet poised, precise and ready.
Her body plush, yet firm enough to lean on.
Her arms soft, yet strong enough to hold one.

Her home sang of her country-cottage heart.
The warm and comfy — sofas, cushions, drapes,
foliage, her roomy soul, her arms —
embraced the small and shiny — copper, glass,
china, jewels, precious hearts, bright eyes.
Each item laid in place with care: a blessing.

She nurtured and collected delicate things.
Necklaces, rings. Clocks, statuettes, shoes,
pretty plates. Flower-hung, lace-hung hats.
Austrian blinds in gathers, frills and curves.
And many precious pictures of family and friends
honoured in frames on walls, where she could see them.

She lived to love, was conscious of how her touch
affected others, created beauty for others
in every moment, in all she did and made.
This woman of diamonds, woman of gold, bouquet
of chosen roses, lover of all things small —
small dogs, mice, bugs and little human hearts —
she helped them grow in the garden of her arms.

Her calm arms a harbour for wild ships,
      for Debbie, for Leanne
Her reliable smile a quiet place to sit,
      a familiar chair and table
      for Lorraine
Her laughter a homecoming, a rain of memory,
      a swing, a slide, a treehouse,
      a dolls’ picnic,
      a secret shared
      for Pat
Her entire self — her body, mind and spirit —
      the puzzle solved,
      the pattern matched,
      the question answered,
      the door unlocked,
      the path revealed
      to a place of peace
      for Ross.

Rita walked in glowing joy and love,
in brave grace, and warmth, and mirth, and beauty.
Rita. A true friend forever.
She left too soon, but left with dignity —
a lady from her dawn until her sunset.

Poem to be read at June’s funeral

Commissioned 2010. This work may not be reproduced by any process, including printing, without permission.

June Dawn, you were born and lived a lady,
gracious and elegant to the last.
You showed the world your style, your smile
and gave each day — each soul — your best.

Around you, no-one could be lonely.
The laughter in your lovely eyes
enmeshed a truly precious pattern
around the Lotto of our lives.

By sharing with neighbours, friends and family
your lavish feasts — your food, your self —
you shared with everyone Heaven’s secret:
happiness comes to us when we help.

We may no longer know directly
your twinkling eyes and golden touch,
but time can never take away
the love and laughs you left with us.