The September Baby

oak leaf

Autumn, spring in reverse,
both curse and pleasure,
damp dread seeps into my bones.

But when does it start? This change?
Late August? Perhaps it’s the small things,
the bite of the wind in the morning,
the condensation on the windowsill.
The still dew on spiderwebs spun
between hawthorn hedges,
the haw fruit are festival baubles.
Ash keys unlock the sky,
will they be there at the end of
my lifetime?

In September, the sudden shift of colour,
a golden ombre wave, flirtatious red highlights
before the great undressing.

October is the auburn month,
the leaf litter crunch,
low sunshine through skeletal branches.
Our breath steams,
we pretend that we’re dragons.

And, as we lay another fallen
leaf on your grave, I ponder
little losses and wonder, once again,
how quickly the year seems to turn.

Day 6: on not being able to find the words #40daysto40

It has been seven years, well, it will be seven years at 14:07 BST. Today is the day you were stillborn. I would write you a poem if I could. I am struggling to find the words. I still think about you every single day. If I were still in Stockport, I could visit where you’re buried, give you once again a small token: an autumn leaf, one with bright colours – perhaps a Japanese maple – with neon greens, sunshine yellow, firey red.

Sometimes, still, when I’m in the most unlikely of places, I’ll see a piece of clothing, or a soft toy with big plastic baby eyes. I’ll think of what could have been. And then there are silent tears, in T K Maxx, or in a supermarket aisle next to a selection of tee-shirts or flannel bigs. I’m sorry. I just cannot seem to think poetically any more. And I will think of you today in the words that I have. I mourn the words I don’t have yet. I will remember you.

Fifth Birthday

Traces and prints; sometimes I wonder if you were ever there.

Inky traces. Sometimes I wonder if you ever were.

Five years ago you were a stone
marbled grey, except your piggy pink toes,
cold to touch.

Seasons shift. Constellations are
the pour of cream in a dark whirlpool.

I brought you leaves every September,
and tucked them up in your unmarked grave,
then sat on that bench as drops of water
magnified red and gold veins.

A sudden shift in the scene; you’re there.
Not stone, nor bone,
the ink is the shadowbut there
black eyes reflect blue-grey.

I saw that you were now corvid,
with wings, with black feathers
all over your body.

You landed on my lap, I bounced you on my knees.
When it was over, you bowed your head.
Then I let you go.

That Question

red breeze in the leaves the annual musical

red breeze in the leaves the annual musical

When you ask that question:
a pause,
a nervous laugh,
the “no”
followed by
“yes, actually.”
The explanation,
a nervous laugh,
change the subject
like the leaves change
the yellow to red
caution to stop.

When the wind blows
the leaves fall
when the wind blows
everyone feels it
when the wind stops
only you do.

When you ask that question:
the crumpled paper feeling
behind the ribs.
It sounds
like leaves
beneath the feet;
seasonal gifts
on an unmarked grave.

When the wind blows
the leaves fall
when the wind blows
everyone feels it
when the wind stops
only you do.


polish your shoes until your face shines back at you

polish your shoes until your face shines back at you

There will be no shoes for your birthday.
(Wrapping paper remains unbought.)
There will be no rustling through a cardboard box,
to pull apart petals of paper and reveal
“Princess” shoes, patent jet with daisy hole pattern.
There will be no ‘but you said I couldn’t…’ glee.

There will be no balloons, no surprises.
No sticky cake to prise off the kitchen floor.

In the park, pigeons will remain unchased.
There will be no STOMP as leaves remain unjumped on.
There will be no shoelaces that need retying,
no gimmick of a flashing light at the heel
to catch the eye as the nights draw in.

It’s late now, I’m walking the hill of Hollywood Park.
Stopping to listen for the dark echo of a shadow,
or the tap-tap of tiny feet.

The Children’s Playground Two Years On

let me give you feathers, anything ephemeral

let me give you feathers, anything ephemeral

Leaves, dip dyed maroon,
corked at the stem,
some fell too early.

In the park
planes groan grey,
a wedge of sound

blocks out crows
who peck and pick
hardened ground.

Too warm for a coat
I hug myself.
Warm flesh, red wool cardigan.

I push an empty swing
and sing lullabies to myself.

Toy windmills for gravestones

Hush. Sleep now. The earth is your bed.

Hush. Sleep now. The earth is your bed.

One year has gone, little one.
The months flutter on
more stealthy than wings.
Shuffled in the spin
of multi-hued windmills.

The colours blend
back to the white.

The rain taps down,
tilts the toys,
flattens the grass blades
of the baby garden.

Lulled by a small rush of wind
the glittered sails spin.


Sleep now.