Born again

 

A man botched up from sticks and bone –
all angles, elbows pointing out,
and one leg twisted round its mate
like ivy round a tree.

As we come abreast of him, I see
the sleeveless denim jacket, skinny arms
pale and freckle -spotted, his white face
wet with effort, clenched like a closed fist.

“You’ll walk with me,” a child’s voice
slurred around the edges,
a statement, not an invitation.

We stand still.

He finds a solid anchor for his crutch
then drags his tangled limbs to follow it.
We move forward just an inch or two.

His name is Tim and he was born again
ducked in the winter river last December.
Three crucifixes hang round his neck
like winners’ medals.

The square is transient space , where every hour
a thousand different purposes collide
and split away. A place to walk across
or cycle through, which only takes a moment.

It takes us half an hour to get across.

We pause.

“ Born again” he mutters , “I’m born again”
over and over.

A child cries out – a yelp of pain –
head -high above the flinching crowd
pigeons whirr like shrapnel.
I watch them swing a circuit round the sun.
“Born again …” Continue reading

Pruning

DSCF2155
Just another word
for amputation.
Fleshed of leaves
the hedge gapes open
like a charnel house-
clawed fingers, knuckles, elbow joints
fused in a mass of spikes and barbs.

An eye for cramped and crooked growth,
long handled cutters and a pair of gloves
will see you straight.
Now pull the twigs aside.
See the main stems- long bones, twisted
tight as cables in the bitter winter.
Pick those thinner than your wrist
and slice them through. The stumps may bleed
a sticky sap, but this will clot and heal
the gash.
Now drag your cuttings out
and burn them.

Thin as lace and filled with air, the hedge
will fade from sight
until the warm days come,
when overnight it grows a lush green pelt.
It smells of sunshine.
Its dappled heart is loud with sparrows.