They cut the water. Bent it from meanders
to turn mill wheels, beckoned it from the beck
to run a rigid course. Tamed, apparently,
it licked the soot from honey-shaded stones.
Like factory hands, it only stopped in corners
where it could hear no orders, shelter moss.
Today foundations crumble underfoot.
Ahead, security fences take a nap,
loll on their backs and rust. A square,
tilting towards the forgotten goit
and framed by wide-eyed dereliction
might be where magic starts. Shreds of green;
seeds, spores, windblown dust. Roots
tougher than tarmac. One or two summers,
a scatter of thistle. Ragwort. A storm.
Rain runs to this future. Takes blackened spaces
back. Winds sift warehouses to tilth.
Summer grass sways and stretches, conjures gold.
• This poem first appeared in The Linnet’s Wings.
Between Orion and the Plough
a blink of wing-lights. We
watch our shadow tip
across the moon. In valleys
unwanted light puddles, spreads.
On Stanage Edge the breeze
is fluid as family, the glittered sky
brittle as dried teasels.
Air traffic control is humming,
sketching new constellations.
We forget the names of stars.
• This poem first appeared in The Open Mouse
We’re floundering, learning properties of water:
the way plastic swims into the food chain,
bulky in albatross bellies, broken in guts
of small birds: battered by waves,
seasalt, by the sun’s bleaching.
Bottle tops, Barbie shoes, lighters, toy soldiers:
the gyre gulps them all, swills and gargles them
smaller and smaller. Suspended solutions
of Lego, piled up in the organs of fish.
Once the colour has gone no-one sees.
We’re counting the grains. Five trillion pieces
of plastic bags, jerry cans, spring water bottles
float in the oceans. We’re filling our faces
with containers of bleach, washing up liquid,
hair products, makeup remover. We want to die clean.