Backlit by a flickering hearth
each room is a stage
applauding its audience.
Silence twines speech
the talk of wool and milk
twin whitenesses spinning
days into decades. Time
passes like a finger sliding
along a grained surface.
A pony returns riderless
snow coming down
warm bread in the panniers.
for a few more moments
the time it takes for the
snowflakes to fill footprints
coals to cool in the grate
oak beams to soften
leaving the roof nothing
for support but the attic’s dust
the house’s adumbrations.
He does not know the names
of the trees hooked into the sky
but their twisted forms are familiar
drawn by gales on the days that didn’t arrive
burned up in their own sunrise like golden plovers.
Now just the weightlessness of things
walls tumbled, the livestock all gone,
leaving only the torn edges of the fields
his square mile a sail ripped from its mast
left to billow overhead like golden plovers.
As he passes the twmp’s open mouth
he tries to answer his fathers’ questions,
tell them of seas beyond the whalebacks.
But, like them, he knows only long winters
and life concealed like golden plovers.
What remains as he is washed away
are the long days where he disappeared,
flowed out into the hill with the bracken roots,
his hours still there, waiting for the last light
to catch, when they’ll glow like golden plovers.
Across the Sound
Here is a gathering of those things
that constitute seabirds
the pipes, reeds, frets and strings,
and the notes produced – all westerlies.
From the cliffs you can hear spaces
in their music, narrow and infinite,
silences that draw voices in tides.
Now the white notes are blown
from the page, they wheel endlessly
suspended above this egressing sea.
And where next?
To the places not in need of names,
the blue isles merging into others,
adrift on a gyre, dragged by rivers
that flow from pole to pole.
Like us, once out of site
of the overwintered world,
they will dive into the dark
James Roberts lives in the Black Mountains. He co-edits Zoomorphic magazine. Recent poetry has been published by Agenda and Cinnamon Press. A novella “The Man in the Mountain.” was published in 2015.