boot prints and paw marks
notes on invisible staves
mute song of winter
Category Archives: Moments
boot prints and paw marks
Tide of birdsong washing over the pillow,
morning light zebrastriping the wall.
I surface to bubbles of drowsy excitement
drifting from under the bed.
The old dog is dreamhunting again.
Fug of ancient canine wafts up
like a comfortable, friendly embrace.
The world is at peace.
A company of rooks have commandeered
my tree tops, cawing their raucous orders
to the foul-mouthed platoon of carrion crows
billeted lower down.
Their croaking sorties darken my window –
but shush: from his high lookout a blackbird
raises his voice, rehearsing spring rebellion.
I clear my throat.
I sit quite still
on the weathered wooden bench
as the caramel coloured chicks
The sharp tugging of beaks
at tender shoots of grass,
the homely hencoop smell –
and I’m five years old and adrift
in summer, giddy, cut loose
from my moorings,
lost but wrapped safe
in solicitous clucking –
The chicks nestle near
in the last rays of the low sun;
the hen, wary, patrols –
and I hold Grandpa’s hand
as we go and lift warm eggs
from their beds of straw.
You will never be standing
on that impossibly thin line
four hundred metres
above the ground
between the two towers –
oh but you will:
all of us will, or were,
or are (even now),
only we did not realise then,
or have forgotten,
or choose to close our eyes
to the immensity of the drop.
(On 8/7/1974, Philippe Petit walked the tightrope betweeen the twin towers of the World Trade Center.)
You wake up in a leafy street at dusk – it might
be Cambridge, Massachusetts: wide sidewalks,
separated from the street by strips of lawn;
white porches, pastel clapboard mansions
with wooden pillars propping up solid suburbia.
A yellow house pours honey-coloured light
from every window. On a gentle tide of voices,
music, laughter, clinking glasses you wash up
against the Doric columns of the open entrance
and are swept inside. Past the grand staircase
with its sweeping banisters you drift through
rooms with crimson sofas, Tiffany lamps, tight
crowds of people lost in conversation, out
on a balcony where girls in flapper dresses
smoke black Sobranies, and in the library
men drinking rye talk baseball scores.
Notes floating from a grand piano draw you
to a ballroom where a boy in white tuxedo
and a girl in red glide dreamily across the floor,
oblivious to your silent passing. Lured by
a hallway’s chequer board of black and white
you sink into the dark recesses of the house.
The happy din of voices dies away; the grand
piano tinkles to a stop; the muffled sound
of car doors slamming, then the hectic play
of headlights on the walls; and you remain,
a shadow drifting noiselessly from room
to room, turning the lights out one by one.