I blinked my eyes
and nine days passed
me. Sometimes, it
feels that fast. My
36th birthday, a slew
a diary-like, unpublishable
poems, a picnic, a
party, cleaning up after
the party, work deadlines,
more work deadlines,
wine to drink to make
up for the deadlines.
Washing, cooking, driving.
E-mailing, reading, texting.
A kingfisher that perches
on my washing line,
watching the rain. A
spindly praying mantis,
climbing my blue and
grey clay vase, intent on
reaching the sunflower’s
fuzzy stem.
And more reading.
Tomorrow, the
forecast is for
more rain.

Here, there is no missing

the weather. The storm that

rolls in off the sea, sharply

occluding the morning sun’s

glare. The tides that monitor

the shoreline, every day, every

evening; the wind in the trees.

Clear, glassy days. Cold mornings

where the rain pounds the roof

and the washing won’t dry.

Days and nights so hot the whole

house steams. Days so cold I

follow the sun around the house —

in the mornings, in the big room

overlooking the sea. The sunrise

room. As morning fades into

afternoon, the reading room. At

the front of the house, encased

by windows, a ceiling of glass, I

sit working, warmed through

like a hothouse flower. The

light fades too quickly. In

the early evening, a pink dusk that

quickly deepens into the deep bowl

of night. In this light, the

water wants to keep its secrets.

Only the cool wind blowing in from

the sea has messages for me, the

moon rises, shines down, with

nothing to say, I am too far

beneath her long, high gaze. The

wind, though, is interested in small

domestic details, she speaks of rain

in the morning, what she has seen that

day, blowing up the long length of

the two islands — gossip; stolen

washing; a lost cat; someone in Bluff,

wearing a grey coat, sitting by a fire,

drinking black coffee, wearing

slippers with no socks, composing

poems about the weather.

Starry day

Nights of quiet

Water and trees

Last page of my book

First song of the evening

End of the light

Tonight a week of work

has frozen the inside of

my head

And it feels as though

only red wine could

unglue it.

My fifth cup of coffee

grows cold by my elbow.

Between death and life

Lies a line most people

think is solid.

A cliff edge protected by

a high, strong fence.

A garden edged in

stone.

A fear ground deep into

the bones.

But if you cross this line just

once, and get to come back,

it will never seem solid

again.

Everything you used to know

will unravel.

You will wake up to the

blinding afternoon light,

alive, and realise nothing

has solidity.

It’s not just the leaves of

the tree that quiver in the

wind, it’s the whole tree.

The people you walk past,

the pavement that grounds

you: an illusion, no

more than a stratosphere

of loosely spinning atoms,

less solid than air, less

real than the wind.

Standing at the furthest edge

of the cliff, your heart

grips you, not in fear,

but exhilaration. You look

into the sky, consider the

swirling, pitiless sea, and

it makes you smile. This is

the most dangerous place.

Where instead of fear,

all you can see is

freedom.

At low tide, I walk for miles

to swim. The mud sucks at my feet.

I abandon my mud-covered jandals

half-way, follow the lines

of rock, try to avoid

the sharpest shells.

Far out by the headland, I

lower myself carefully

into the water. If I dip too

much, my stomach touches the

bottom. What I am doing

is not swimming, surely, it

is basking, perhaps, or

floating, or absorbing. When I

try to swim, I cut my hand on

a rock. The blood streams out

around me, but it doesn’t hurt.

In the water, all of my pain

is numbed. I want to be a

fish, or a bird, or a person

whose job it is to float in the

water all day, tide-keeper,

cloud- guardian.

This morning, the sky opened her arms

wide

Asking the sun for a hug

But he was nowhere to be found

Instead the clouds were out in force

And the sun was in the kitchen,

making me coffee. Black coffee

with sugar, so hot it burnt

my tongue.

you could have added milk you know

or don’t you have milk, up in the sky

I thought, but did not say, because what

I have learnt is it’s rude to criticise

someone who has made you something

to eat or drink, even when it’s not the

sun who has descended from the sky

to make it.

I think the sky is looking for you,

I said instead, sipping the coffee,

watching clouds shaped like cows

racing across, chased by

something that looked like

a giant broom.

The sun sighed. She likes to tease

me with those clouds, he said. I think

I’ll wait to go home until after it

rains. The sky doesn’t like my coffee.

She says I don’t put milk in it, and

I don’t, but have you ever tried to get

milk from a straggly cow cloud? One

minute a cloud, the next

a dragon. It’s easier just to go

without milk.

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