Last – Celia McCulloch

In these days of terrible tiredness
I move in and out of sun and shade,

sometimes gliding down a colonnade
along a sun-dried yard
towards a dark nave, cool and hidden.

Sometimes I lie stripped bare,
satisfied by the weight and heat of sun.

In this endless weariness
you’d think I’d sleep, but no.
I read a little, caught in a loop:

the colonnade and dark chapel
the hot sun and my melting skin
the shadows
the sun
the shadow…

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Horses (for Julia) – Lesley Mountain

Feathered plumes droop
between pricked ears
at the cemetery gates.
I never knew we shared
a love of horses.
We could have talked fetlocks,
piebalds, martingales, manes.

Did you imagine sitting deep
in the saddle, playing the reins
as chaos snatched at the bit,
frisked through your cells,
longed to canter through your body,
until your fingers tired, your shoulders eased
and life bolted out of sight?

An outline of your qualities –
generosity, acute attention,
persistence through pain –
remains in these Belgian Blacks
as they stand four square
between the traces, breathing
through soft nostrils, swishing their tails.

 

I have no one individual memory of Julia – we were both part of the
“Newcastle lefty” set in the 80’s-90’s and her smile was always there – at
demos, benefits (especially after a while with the Poetry Virgins), parties.
I was always glad to see her, and wish I’d known about the “horse”
connection – it might have given us an opening to a closer friendship.

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