the restive season

Tomb sculpture: Reclining lady and baby.

I suspect many people will be spending Christmas afternoon dozing on the sofa, remote control in hand, watching the TV.

So it made some kind of sense to me when I woke up this morning with the idea of using “the restive season” as a title and writing a blog post with poems about relaxation or sleep.

Then, of course, I woke up properly and remembered that “restive” has little to do with rest – rather the complete opposite: it’s fidgety, not relaxed.

No matter. I’m still going to post the poems, even if the post title doesn’t make much sense and the poems are not in the least bit festive.

First there’s a couple of pieces written in Spain. Perhaps more to do with insomnia than with sleep, they are two different interpretations of the noises of the night:

“Time passes”

2:00 am
Cicadas etch a tripwire grid across the garden.

3:00 am
An owl’s pale velvet hoot
glides through pinedark air.

4:00 am
In vinous trills
the nightingale’s song
ripples from the cherry tree.

5:00 am
The cockerel crows
the fussy hens awake;
they peck and pick, unravelling
the fraying edges of the night.

6:00 am
All round the valley, dogs
worry the straggled threads
of dark; they tug and bark
and run with them
towards the morning.

 

Sleepless at four a.m.

Beside me
your unchanging breathing
tells me you don’t hear
the noises of the night:

       the constant river
       the church clock
       the velvet owl’s hoot
       and the answering screech
       stray dogs hunting…
                            A snarl
of cats tumbles through the dark
beneath the window and you stir

only to sleep again. I listen
to your breath and count
the seconds till you wake.

 

The next two pieces were written many years ago. Again, in some way, I have always thought of them as a pair:

sleeping

in self defence,
neck tense,
jaws clenched
on anger; no kiss,
no whispered word
will slip from lips
pursed tight;
no touch disturbs,
no light shines through
and no smile soothes;
she barely breathes,
afraid to lose

control.

 

complicity

In the aftermath, he draws her to him.
Womb-cupped, she feels him hold her;
does he protect or own her?
She focuses on every cell
of skin-meets-skin.
As sweat seeps between them
she wills her strength to him.

 

Finally, two more recent pieces, neither of which has a title. They were written at different times, but the second is a clear response to the first:

I am lying alongside a dragon

I inhale slowly
hold
exhale
and hold

I am lying alongside a dragon
thunder rumbles softly in his throat
a storm receding

I inhale slowly
hold
exhale
and hold

I am lying alongside a dragon
dull and unaware
his foreleg pinions me

I inhale slowly
hold
exhale
and hold

I am lying alongside a dragon
I can feel his hot breath on my neck.

 

The dragon alongside me is my dragon

I inhale slowly
hold
exhale
and hold

The dragon alongside me is my dragon
he carries me to the high places on his wings
and provides for my needs from his hoard

I inhale slowly
hold
exhale
and hold

The dragon alongside me is my dragon
the heft of his body is comforting
an anchor to stop me drifting

I inhale slowly
hold
exhale
and hold

The dragon alongside me is my dragon
and I am his.

 

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

One thought on “the restive season”

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