The Barn House
of a squashed rabbit.
a pale woman
moving into grey
over dark hills.
A sharp heat
in the eyes of a sleek
Moon over reservoir:
torch to a scared hare,
flap of a pheasant:
taut rig bending,
The converted barn’s
a refuge from panic and storms,
coal fire’s teeth
fierce in the night.
After the hush, the black bird plummets:
a cinder from the squashed sun.
Dusky creatures shake off sleep, lift their snouts
and sniff for food on the chill air,
smelling chimney smoke memories.
Men have disappeared, abandoning the mist-fields
for warm cottages and warming pie. Outside the house
it is starlighting. No one has come home.
Small footprints follow the road. Voices of children
tinkle from the church, then the wind sucks them up.
In the small, snug sphere of home
words catch the woman like thorns.
She hoped the eyes of a girl would shine tonight.
Her pupils are small, round windows of smoked glass.
Her fingers sleep on her lap:
a family of red-faced nuns.
The log fire crackles and spits. She dreams.
Awake. She opens the door. The trees are green tin.
The oranges are blue.
She brushes tingling fingers over snow,
searches for grass, a shred of life
beneath the unreal, anaesthetizing white.
(A version of this poem appeared in The Rialto)
William Park began publishing poetry in the late 1970s and received a Gregory Award in 1990. His collection Surfacing appeared from Spike Publishing in 2005, reviewed in Ambit, Critical Survey, London Magazine, The North.
He tutors in a wide range of community settings, including hospitals and a prison, and is Creative Writing editor for Asylum magazine for democratic psychiatry. www.asylumonline.net
He has a Master’s in the Creative Arts, a PGCE, and is a recent convert to jogging.