I saw no stars

It didn't all go black;
but I saw no stars.
No bright lights and
no tunnel
to run up and along.
My shoes didn't clatter
hooves in the tube
in the rush
to get up and get out; I
dreamed I'd cruise along wires
but instead
I just dreamed.
There had been a hush
a soft wind
a small puff of air through teeth
past my ears;
a tree fell
in the forest
and
behind eyelids,
soft as bread and
half-closed like my
for-a-moment-slowed heart
my pupils rose to a heaven
they couldn't see;
tadpoles swimming
to the surface.
I remember thinking
it was funny
wouldn't it be funny?
My knees going
bone gone jelly
a wet sponge
sunk
to the ground.
Damp all round.
My lettuce rolled
a head
across the hard office floor
no blood, not then, not mine
just salad.
My own head cradled
in my colleague's arms
blood barely there
just a whisper in my limbs
but pumping again,
my legs curled under
like those forest-floor leaves
knees by chin.

Alone on Christmas Eve

Alone on Christmas Eve
a beer at my elbow
popped like champagne.
It’s warm for the time of year
they say
coats open and flapping
like birds on a wire.
The Spring wind is whistling
catching cracks in the walls and
I’m sick of Glühwein –
bits crunch and grind
between sticky, sweet teeth –
so I drink beer while
the sofa waits
springs poised and plump
for my turkey behind.
In the morning
thawed
flawed but still here,
I hear carols broadcast on Radio Four
this Christmas cheer, this year
a haunting sound.
Throats are cracked and sore
from too much singing,
and small balls
held in hands
help chords
reach new heights.
I wrap presents on the kitchen floor
tear and fold, tear and fold
and remember again that
trees were cut down.
I read cards out loud on Skype
I shout:
A brain in a jar!
As I roam the room.
A vision of the future
this time
my turn
I tear and unfold, tear and unfold.
The image shimmers like glass
and pixilates.
Mum forgets
and shouts through
Do you want a coffee?
To the living room
to me;
a fish in a bowl, fish in a bowl.
Mouth open
mouth closed
sound muffled
then lost.
I break cinnamon sticks
and I wish I was home.

What I want to be when I grow up

And the sun was like it is today
the warmth of it, the egg-yolk-yellow
of it in everything. It ran hot along
the smalls of our backs,
costumes chafing where elastic greeted skin.
A princess and a butterfly
sat hunched
in the yard, my sister and I had our heads together,
hers blonde and floating, mine darker, touching,
conspiratorial and absorbed
breaking twigs and pulling grass
like hair from the ground
out of bright, brilliant
boredom in our party dresses. The gravel
in the old school playground
crunched under shined patent shoes,
lace-trimmed socks flirting with the dirt;
we crouched and squinted, grazed knees wide,
compared wounds, white scratches on red,
grazed palms too on the large stone by the gate
torched by the late-afternoon sun;
revived, we ran.

The egg-yolk-yellow was in the paint of my wings too,
butterfly eyes, black dots
near the tips at the top. My dad
strapped them enthusiastically to my back
that day,
where the boys were too wild
and my dad, used to girls
was often overwhelmed by the small, but mutinous crowd
during musical chairs or tag or games.
I remember the weight
of those wings
in the heat
and the scratching of crepe paper and easter egg foil,
purple dots on silver,
tickling through.
I stood on the high wall by the field
by the house
and bricks crumbling underfoot
I jumped,
the sun in that too,
hoping to fly
and tumbling into the green unseen.