I know that pump
and the coldness of it
on whitened
winter mornings

and that bucket,
the awkward weight,
held away, wide
of your body.

They must eat, of course,
the men, the children,
roaring in
full of hunger,

and is this not an act
of heroism? The daily task
of giving
to them,

the daily act of staying
here, in this narrow place,
not spreading those
white wings, folding.

The beating hearts of all
those women, who have
poured out
their desires

and here is love
in these four walls
and the hands’ movements
again repeated.

This is my “cover” of ‘Sunlight’ by Seamus Heaney, for a dVerse (Tricky) prompt. You can find the original here:

I have tried to keep something of the spirit and the feel of the original. I wrote out each stanza of the original and then wrote out my response to it, and found I seemed to have written a poem that worked. Seamus Heaney wrote beautiful poems filled with intense local detail and universal significance. He works on many levels. 


Gaia II – microfiction for Jane Dougherty

Yesterday I watched some newly hatched spiderlings dispersing on the wind, each hanging from its own, fine thread, each looking for a home.

It made me think of Gaia II, launched seven years ago. Hardly believable now, that we could build that amazing biosphere, with its ecosystem designed to maintain itself for millenia, if necessary. And those uterine chambers, filled with embryos – human, of course, and larger animals, all waiting to be born into a brave new world.

We all waved the ship goodbye, and wished it well. We followed it on television and on the internet, bought apps to track its journey. Now it is silent. Signals take too long to return to us, and anyway, since the war it’s been hard to coordinate any kind of international effort.

So, yesterday was the first time in months I’d thought of it, and I’m one of the lucky ones. As well as my two daughters here, I have an embryonic son, sleeping in amniotic fluid in an artificial womb, somewhere out there. My chance at some kind of immortality. I wonder what his life will be like – the synth-mothers teaching him basic technology, and co-operative skills. I hope he helps to build a better world than this one.

I’ll never know. Nor will my daughters, or their children, or theirs. We won’t know how this story ends.

We have cast a bottle, with a message written in DNA, out into the dark ocean of space. All we can do now is pray for it.

Image by Makis Wilarmis. Prompt courtesy of Jane Dougherty. I am really looking forward to reading these stories…1017px-2010_utopien_arche04

Choosing a bride

He preened in front of the mirror, arranging his golden hair, just so, admiring his own glorious skin. He knew himself to be irresistible. At last he was ready, and made his way down to the great gallery, where they waited for him, a line of living works of art. All he had to do was choose one.

He strutted down the line of women, rating them: a seven, a three, a six, another seven, definitely an eight. They kept their heads down, demurely. He was not to be rated. He was to be obeyed and adored.

Outside, the mob roared, pitchforks shaking in angry hands, torches raised. The city was burning. In here, there were only his footsteps, and the quiet breaths of the women.

He made his choice. He stepped forward to claim her, to grab what was his right. He didn’t expect the flash of metal from every sleeve as each young woman pulled forth a silver blade. He didn’t expect the pain.

They left him there, alone in his great gallery. He heard their footsteps as they ran, down the long hallway, out to freedom.


Microfiction for Jane Dougherty. sedovgs_vybornevestalmihgtg

Bridge II (to) for dVerse

As I approach it, I see the bridge , spanning the river. Each arch is different. There are lots of stories as to why. It’s probably to do with finding a solid base for each column, but I like the idea that different parties could afford spans of different sizes. There has been a bridge here for centuries, and before that a ford, retained in the town’s name – Bideford. Once you’re on the bridge, you no longer see it. I look to where I’m going, and at the river below me. North of us there’s a new bridge, high above us, traffic moving slowly this morning. Down here there is mist hanging over the water, keeping it secret. Birds are simple shadows moving in the haze. I’m heading east of the water in stop start traffic. Kids in school uniform are walking in clumps of adolescence, office workers trot by in efficient shoes. They are mostly heading west, to schools and shops and estate agents. We are all in movement, but the bridge remains.


Mist rising softly

Movement of life and water

Breathe in this beauty.

For Grace at dVerse, a bridge haibun. Head over there, and breathe in the beauty of the poetry you find there. And write some too. Just one word after another…