BY THE OLD DEANERY, SOUTH MALLING
This morning there were dark blue anemones, with dog-tooth
serrations, near the sign which says these are private gardens,
three stone steps down from the lane leading out to the river.
But we can look. There’s nothing to say viewing’s prohibited.
And today there’s a man with a chain saw and a lorry up by the church
and his noise wavers, building and building to an edge and falling.
There’s no escape from the sound. It enters the empty garden
as if it was in flight over an unmapped border; like the border
of the farm, for instance— those wood anemones were white, on thin
red stalks under the leafless beeches, beyond the last barbed wire.
And we were farm kids, trespassing with ease, crawling out to lie with them
on moss and beech mast, with the same rooks cawing overhead.
across the river we have seen a heron waits
feet in the muddy grasses at the edge
hunch backed alert for fish that slide greasy
and fast through all this slackening turbulence
he stiffens stabs the reeds and lifts his head
a squirm of darkness writhing from his beak
a heaving muscle flicked to flight and caught
adjusted flicked again while still the snake
lined up twists in his bill not speared but held
and when the heron swallows will it seem
his throat is as a god’s throat blue enamel
burnished tin? the oily tide is on the turn
and sunlight stutters free from what must come--
the long slide backward release from holding on
SOMEONE KEEPS TALKING
Someone keeps talking while I try to grasp
the nub of a word— bricks, arches, in full
glorious colour, with Buddleia impossibly
purple and a road on top. I know a man
who lays bricks down and thinks of them
in space. Set there while his back breaks
and his memory fades. Who laid the bricks
in the Ponte delle Torri, for instance?
It still knits the two halves of the valley
on long thin legs. What do you call it?
And I almost have it but someone keeps talking.
Copyright © Janet Sutherland 2015
Janet Sutherland grew up on a small dairy farm near Salisbury and studied at Cardiff University and at the University of Essex. She has three collections with Shearsman Books: Burning the Heartwood, 2006, Hangman’s Acre, 2009 and Bone Monkey, 2014. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and in anthologies including The New British Poetry 1968-88, Paladin Poetry and The Virago Book of Love Poetry ed. Wendy Mulford 1990. She currently lives in Lewes, East Sussex.