I ride in front of farmers’ sons on tractors.
My arms are smooth but theirs are rough with hair.
I feel their squidgy things through overalls:
I’d always known they’re different down there.
But men set snares for rabbits and boys know where.
We climb the high-stacked hay bales to the rafters.
The barn is dark but streaked with gold up here.
We make a nest and hide, trapping our laughter.
No fur is silkier than this new hair.
In here with me, you are not one of them:
Our fingers feel each other on a softly swelling stem.
But still, out there, when men set snares for rabbits
you know where.
* Ulster dialect for potatoes.
beyond, steam veils the morning-watered furrows
of compost quickening
in the crumbly earth
a yeasty brewing stirrs
in the sticky dough of me
pulls in the leavening air
to lift the limbs of me
the squat square shape of me
the old straight tracks of me
skin pricks with sweat like fur
I feel the turf of me
tough pads of hands make fists
the roughened rocks in me
hurl a stamping rage
for power snatched from me
the power of growth in me
the space to be in me
the place that gives in me
I lift my eyes and see
steam veiling morning-watered furrows
and oh! that never-ending stretch of sea
the ceaseless sweep of waves
draws great draughts of breath to me
quenching an ancient thirst
till sobs and groans are song of me
streams of tears pour from me
the sweet salt snot of me
the strong long song of me
anchored in the old straight tracks of me
arms wingspun in dance
breaking the postures of apology.
like the grainy hollow in the stone
and holds it
till the work of creation
ferments in her body.
What we need then
is a good farmer to arrive
a tough rough gentle
He’ll use his big spade hands
to turn my disinterested
towards the trembling waif,
make me see it, sniff it.
He’ll give me a bit of encouragement
say my name
fuss me a bit.
Finally, I may lick it
and with a tingling rush in the udder
I rise waist-high in Crete’s May heat
open a crimson throat as long as your arm
to hold you in my wine-dark centre
my sparkling sailor of the wine-dark seas
my man behind the mast
my mast, my thick stamen
I draw you into where there is no space
only the strength of desire to be filled:
(a strength I find no name for
in my Thesaurus)
that seals us both hermetically to pleasure -
Hermes and Aphrodite
become one flame.
You can’t just pull it like a carrot from the ground.
We cannot be untied by banging on the door.
Somehow we surface like whales, call out
but the banging goes on.
Prised apart to show its secret
a fist hits out
‘Fuck off!’ I shout.
‘Do you want this ‘phone call or not?’
We should make velvet tasseled cords
strung with silver hearts
to hang across our doors....risk ribaldry.
Sitting at breakfast, words wore suits:
‘I don’t appreciate being told to f--- off!’
A hurt that will not speak its name
the hammer falls on the bargain
retreat to my room like a woman
We both apologise
we laugh and hug.
All day grief seems to bruise an inner skin.
We return to the mountain
to look for the purse we’d lost.
Yesterday’s irises are shrivelled and black
like inky pellets boys threw in school.
The sullen little goatherd at the cross roads
scowls past us as if the road were empty.
Climbing the tall, locked gates to the ruins of Lato,
my skin is spiked with the thrill of forbidden entry.
I retrace the meander of walls and steps
to the silent, sacral court, empty of purses.
The afternoon fizzes and crackles...
cleansing, leavening fire burns out the hurt
leaving - nothing - a vacuum of years
clean stones, a distant view of the sea.
where the throat of the crocus,
the mouth of the cave,
are invitations to enter
the labyrinth’s path
be drawn in
sweet body of the dark
to source the scent...
of a woman stood taut-waisted
breath drawn up, chest filled with fire,
bare breasts flared:
holder of power
arched from her arms
poised: the power of poise
it is the power of holding
not the strike
not the strength of the sword
held high, but of cups
of baked earth
strong with the heat of the sun
and great bellied jugs
the body thus strong
supports the voice
the voice rises
gives song to the stars
and all is held
in a strong web
a strong fine web