Out Walking After Rain
White trumpets of flowers lean
from the bindweed that plaits
a fence of chicken wire
behind which three plastic buckets,
blue, pink and yellow, lie
beside an armchair left out
so long its legs are wormholed,
its green upholstery rotted,
and a table whose top has warped
leaving a concavity
where rain has laid a mirror
so clear I could gaze into it
and forget my origins.
Beyond the table and the chair
a dozen Canada geese
graze until they see I’m there
and then they lift their thick necks
and orange bills with a stare
sidelong and glazed as porcelain
while I’m distracted by the glare
of a cyclist shoving a bike
whose tyres are bereft of air.
The songs have little to do with clouds
although clouds change shape and lurch
like old women in layers of black skirts
on Sundays clutching their prayer books to church.
Nobody is cloud-struck or looks beyond their nose.
Their gaze is earthwards and they sing, shadowed
by years of hunger, drought and flood,
joy never easy, always to be winnowed,
Johnny home from the wars and coughing blood,
black-eyed girls sulky with discontent,
swallows squealing their signals from elsewhere
as the clouds dawdle and fragment.
DO READ | Where Is God?
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