Compurgation

 

 

Trial by ordeal: in that respect

Not much has changed, though much besides forgot.

 

And jury means the same: a conjuring,

Together-swearing, together-summoning.

 

Swear with words, the truth to be the truth.

Swear on words, the oath to be an oath.

 

Together-summoning, for fear that other

Summoned things may come to rise, if not.

 

 

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On Reaching Europe

 

 

I think the moonlight brought me back. Held under,

The ripples kept me jealously: brought to me

Precious forgotten things, as gentle leaves,

Silver swimmers. But this cold, dark praise

Was sleeping comfort: silt between my hands,

Pouring through my icy fingers. At last

A higher tide ascended, brought me out

White as death, now sleepless on the surface,

Looking up to an eyeful of widening moon.

My first sigh was a lungful of water, my first

Word a kiss goodbye to the sorrowed sea.

My first breath was a cloud of paling air.

Yes: it was the moonlight, brought me there.

 

 

The European refugee crisis hasn’t disappeared. It is estimated that last year three thousand forced migrants drowned in the Mediterranean, crossing in the hope of landing to our safe, uncaring shores. The only generosity they will see, is what the water offers them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishes

 

I hung from a vine, in paradise,

With my nimble fingers reaching high

For fruit.

 

You kept below, an adventuress,

A visitor to my world. The canopy

Sang for you.

 

Your hand was twice the size

Of my swift paw as I darted for

Your palm of nuts, held out to me,

 

Touched fingertips. Did that sense

Reveal my future, then, or

Threaten destiny?

 

It wasn’t long after, that my hand

Was reaching, forever under lid.

You kept my hand in a jar.

 

I still reach out to you. I count

The wishes I could have made:

My fingers crushed by yours.

 

 

Looking On

 

 

It’s strange, that now I write of other loves.

Two young things in a supermarket queue

Held together by their matching gloves.

Two young lovers, wonderfully lost

 

Unsure to catch the number 32

Or sprint from the bus stop, running after chance,

Puddles bursting silver as they go.

How did I get here, with my forearms crossed,

 

To perch here, grey-eyed over new romance?

I do not know. And when, over the wine

I tell my husband, and we laugh, I know:

It is because we’ve crossed their finish line.

 

 

 

For Blair. 

 

 

Royal Blood

 

honeycomb-wide-wallpaper-27733.jpg

 

Honey is the wine of sacrifice,

And wine shall be the flavour of our sting.

All bodies shall be banded to the cause,

Armoured to the knife, and under wing.

 

The wealth of blood is yellow to the touch.

Gold is our Queen, and prison is our comb:

Geometry is sacred to us. Such

Is every fear of terror in our home,

 

Our fate remains six-sided. Under threat,

Suicide is how we must survive.

We’ll serve the gold and guard the coronet:

And violence is the honey of the hive.

 

 

 

 

There goes my shot at a knighthood.

 

Sympathetic Magic

 

John_Phillip_-_The_Evil_Eye_1859.jpg

 

A hex will only hurt you if you feel it:

Let it lie, and it shall cease to be.

The evil eye will haunt the one who sees it,

Not merely those whom it purports to see.

 

Half of witchcraft is our withered mind,

Seething spectres we have gladly willed.

If you would leave them be perhaps you’d find

All curses are an omen self-fulfilled.

 

Conviction is the waking of the dreamy:

So when one night you reach along the stair,

Only if you turn around and see me

Will you be sure that I was ever there.

 

 

Seeing is believing: and believing is seeing. An infliction which is psychosomatic, or supernatural, is no less real to the victim.

The painting is John Phillip’s The Evil Eye. The eponymous bar in York is also excellent.