From The Dance of Ararat


Ice Bear Dreams

 

She is a cub again on the long swim south

treading in the dark wake of her mother.

Stars rain down, hissing out in the seawater.

 

 

Unending rutting. His claws pinch her,

so parched she jaws the powdery drift,

and watches steam plume from her lips.

 

 

Her footing slips at the foot of the cliff

She tumbles skywards past the rank nests

of kittiwakes and the screeching auklets.

 

 

Inside each beached whale there is a pit

where the bodies of her long-dead cubs

live peering between the blubbery ribs.

 

 

Her paws shrink to a seal’s black nubs.

She breathes water and is untouchable.

Bears lumber after her in the blue chill.

 

 

Bawling toothlessly she watches her kill

stripped by foxes down to the bare bones,

but cannot lift her paws up from the snow.

 

 

Horking beached blubber down her throat,

she hears the whale’s lungs. It’s soft breath

is indistinguishable from her mother’s breath.

 

 

The ice is gone. The males have stayed south

to sweat and brawl on the drylands forever,

and left her to mewl cubless on the gravel.

 

 

The moon burns the blizzard at eyelevel,

until the snow leaves her and the moon alone.

It’s skin is as warm as a teat against her nose.





From The Salt Harvest


Cockles


Take the orange meat into your muscled spaces.

Five years they filtered sewage on Morecambe flats,

nestled as dense as teeth against strong tidal scrapes,


counting the oilspills, until Yu Hui slapped his plank

and bore them up by griddle and craam in the early stars,

Yu Hui who ended in sand as wind blasted North off the map,


stilling the tubes of his cochleae cordis. Tear them apart,

boiled in cream and crushed with garlic on your sideplate,

alive oh, to feed the crusted bivalves of your heart.