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Kisses

You used to sit

and study

where the willows wept

over the iron railings

into the river.

I read there too

and peered into your

half-moon glasses

where the words

swam, grabbing

an illicit kiss.

You slapped my hand

and I wrapped your shoulders

in a bear-hug embrace.

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Hair

She brushed her hair

and pinned it

in butterfly clips.

It was silver now

and had thinned

from the lush sheen

of her youth.

I watched her stare in the glass

cloudy and cracked

and I wondered

what history she’d seen.

What had been imprinted

behind her eyes,

in her walnut-wrinkled skin.

Silver Birches

they mean winter.

And hawthorn berries

and icy puddles

slick and black.

And ravens

strutting the fallow fields

and the river

melting under

a gauze of sky

that shall transfigure

into midnight blue

with a dash of stars.

Eel

In the eel marshes

my ancestors hunted.

They were sullen people,

inarticulates.

Dykes bisected their country

slicing the sun in two.

When they smoked their eels

they sat in their animal skins

and stank, watching the moon

reflect in water.

The wild dogs sang

their baleful songs.

Mosaic Tiles

Father’s burps

shook the house down.

We sniggered.

He slurped his tea

like an old bear.

But he was an artist.

I watched as he

lay mosaic tiles,

his concentration immense.

Sometimes he never talked

for days

then he took me

on his lap

touched my nose.

He stank of tobacco.

I loved him.

Fuchsias

Once the fuchsia trees

bloomed, you’d go

with your walking frame

to admire

the velvety buds.

You loved the splash

of crimson inside.

You said

if paradise

was so good

you’d rest peacefully.

When your arthritis

stung like bees,

you wheeled yourself

from the gardens

home.

The rain grew sentimental

when you died.

So I raised a plaque

below the fuchsia trees

and decked it

with fallen blossoms

for you to walk

in heaven.

Pleasure

You relish preserved peel.

The citric thrill

makes me shudder.

But you eat it

like some eat chocolate.

With profound joy.

I watch you

coiled on your bed

teeth sunk into the rind

of some sour fruit,

it is clearly inexpressibly

wonderful.