The Glass Swan
January midnight, a numbness of winter,
not for the first time, I am last awake.
The house is silent except for the hum
of the coal fire, the blue song of the fridge.
All the winters I have been alive, the weather
has been teaching its hard lessons:
those who lived so intensely are gone.
I shall not see them again, though I speak with them
in all the aching chambers of the mind.
Ice has hold of the earth, as those things
which are true but unwelcome, grip memory.
Look at this fire in the hearth, feel it.
Bank it up against the night. It is all we have, these
corporeal things: these candlesticks, this glass swan.
inscribed on the inside
of my cardboard house
while I wait to decompose
in the deep woodland places
where my body can become
leaf mould, food
for oaks and rowans.
No need to paint my image
with a gold face, as if bathed
in sunlight. But let children
colour my coffin with crayons,
doodle me happy.
No guide to the netherworld
but poems to sing me asleep
poems I have knit into my bones.
This magic is true. A spell
to perfect the body and return it
to the cradle of earth.