we camped in the Black Mountains
and you thought you saw a wolf. I was a stain
in the shadow of a great cliff of sturdy construction
with a hinged lid. The shoe-box of Hiroshima,
can we forget that flash? How did God shine
the light in the passing space, not minding
as lemmings dived? She had Her own intentions.
I let night over my head like cling film
on a frozen turkey, smoothing the bitter lines.
Then you looked up and described a dream,
the sun scrambled on New Year’s Day. Your words
consumed another, one for every minute.
At midnight you stood beneath the pines singing
Jerusalem. I broke free and soared
in the middle of it all, crazy laughing
as the reservoir rotted red as sunset. I was the one
who once loved you, with your yes, yes, yes until
the world shouted no, do not drive or use machines.
You were the watchman of my panopticon.
I was a clock ticking.
God is the fizz/pop of a failing light bulb.
God is Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.
God is a red warning sign on a sharp bend.
God is a shoe salesman in a designer shop.
God is one segment of a chocolate orange
or an ice cube in a shaken not stirred.
God is an invisible splinter in the sole of your foot.
God is a pyramid in your heart.
God is a pair of curtains that don’t meet in the middle.
God is a lost pair of scissors in the back of a drawer
or a set of cookie cutters in fancy shapes.
God is the teaspoon of honey in your hot toddy.
God is the knot in your umbilical cord,
the stinking pus of a wound that never heals.
God is a dandelion clock on a windy day
and the scent of wet earth in a forest.
God is butter melting on toasted crumpet
or an onion on the chopping board.
God is a sandwich cut into tiny squares.
God is the steady drip of a leaking tap.
God is a white feather on your path.
God is a daub of yellow paint on blank canvas.
God is a game of truth or dare.
God is a broken windscreen in the fast lane
or a hit and run on a dark street.
God is the dogs of Chernobyl looking for a home
and snow drifting in the Carpathian Mountains.
God is a gardener who prunes hard every winter.
The last time I saw you, corroded
man of metal, manoeuvring your mortal
shell over tarmac, cyber sun sparked body
-work so blinding you didn’t see me
at the window sipping Irn Bru. Your brittle head
shadowed by your Panama, dipped dead-pan,
you looked like an Italian film
director shooting the scandalous
biopic of an unknown Nazi. My father,
forged by Stalin’s Holodomor,
man of steel with the ability
to change shape, become uniform,
less liable to crack
the annealing boy with a sword.
Such handsome cheek-bones.
They burned villages on the Western
Steppes belching black smoke
on the day paramilitary death squads
took photographs. I dreamed of you
behind the wheel of a red
Volkswagen Beetle your shame
-ful love of German engineering,
your welded lips breaking down,
reforming internal shapes under
pressure like Swarfiga green
jelly in a tub. You held out one
giant hand scarred by hundreds
of burns, carved deep,
never given a chance to heal
working fourteen hour shifts
at the foundry. Get on board, you said.
Words stuck in your throat
when they took your rotten teeth
out. You coughed blood and lies
into a white handkerchief,
pretended to hang yourself with a jump.
Freedom is a gift not for Everyman.
You were someone else in 1947,
metal pushed through a die.
The boy in the next bed was dying
of a disease with a fine French name.
No fruit, no flowers, no cards
wishing at his side. He had freckles,
curly hair the colour of coal tar soap
and Dr Barnardo’s for a home.
We strayed, whenever nurses looked away,
used Fagin skills to pry Fry’s Chocolate Cream
from the vending machine in Admissions.
The boy leaning on the push
handles of my wheelchair, dragging
numbed feet, sometimes losing a slipper.
At night the pain came stealing.
The boy, a brittle whisper
crept into my bed and I held him
close, close as skin,
nose to nose, forbidden
mint breath clinging.
Father sings Russian lullabies as he drives
the coast road, the island like crushed glass.
We pass beneath the kissing trees.
One, two, three, four, here comes bunny for a run.
Five, six, seven, eight, here comes farmer with his gun.
Ready now, nine and ten…
I watch funny bunny burn in the living
room stove. Ember eyes shine and fade.
Synthetic fur shrivels as flames swallow
my beloved black and hollow.
My fist clenches a secret lock and I crunch
Frosties from a Beatrix Potter bowl.