Issue 8: Alison Blackenbury

In May

The Cox’s apple tree has blowsy swags,

a girl’s bare shoulders, falling from a dress.

Hawthorn, though held bad luck, shines pale and neat,

a distant housewife, waving off her guest.

Untrimmed and unplanted, worn by weather,

one small tree’s flowers burn red, unperplexed,

flash snow.  Crab apples, in pale yellow pools

like sun, feed all, spilt, patient, wait the next.


As October ends

That leaves could choke my bicycle wheels, I knew,

that they could blind me, storm the paths,

could snare a soul; unswept, unloved, quite rotten.

That leaves would light to yellow of clear glass,

I had forgotten.

Arriving in Cornwall

On the first evening we walked to the beach.

White roses craned down. Flies rose from the path.

It was narrow and dark.  The beach was small,

littered by weed.  The rocks crouched like seals.

‘Haven’t been there for years!’ the farmer’s wife said,

stacking up bought jam, just out of reach.

Am I the only one left to arrive?

Let us go down to the beach.

Out of shot

He is the man whose words may not be changed.

He is the man who lived without God’s smiles.

He is the one who gave away his cash

then walked home, miles and miles.

His guests line on his garden bench,

solid as a log

while Beckett, on his hands and knees,

plays with the neighbour’s dog.

Alison Brackenbury's latest collection is Singing in the Dark (Carcanet, 2008). New poems can be read at her website:

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