Audio versions

Teddy’s cross

Teddy’s eyes were crossed
And they were just crosses
So everything she saw was a cross and crossed
And every cross she saw wasn’t.

A cross road was a road
Noughts and crosses was noughts
A hot crossed bun was a hot bun
And Jesus on the cross was just Jesus.

When Jesus saw this he was not cross
Because Jesus without a cross
Was like a teddy with cross eyes

The tall wood that waits to stir the dream.

As the train grazes the platform so the silver shadow fish alight
And the slam doors whisper shut
A tail of raincoats and brollies and thin leather cases
Of old boys and men and neat girls with wheel bags
And Sidiq and Sid and Toni and Jack
And him and them and all the travellers of the eighty three
Branching to left and right
As bucket sick minnows they spin off
Squeezing through shut gates, to step, a key, a front door opens, a sweet green light and her and
I am back home.

Inside the place is amber dim now.
Warm smells hang where air should be
And oaky voices purr the day’s news.
He sinks sofa deep in the living room
And she stands busy to see me
As it should be, in the kitchen, stood on sand, barefoot,
Uncomfortable, nervous, meek like warmed milk
Together we steam and skin.
I offer words but they smile and flick past as
We wait to stir the dream again.

I am alone on the steep rise.
The woods are near here and it is just night.
Through the crack of next door I see it
Across the garden lawn, past the beds
The tall wood waits.

In three steps I am there and night drops now.
The way through the wood wraps the story twice
I am here and the minnows are too
Talking to me like a choir, mouthing, I think,
To a recording I made today, fifty years ago.
Faces and voices I more than know
Still between the trees, still in years, still here, the still same, same.

Us two tiddlers then, outside and about
We dash off scuttling across to the bright sun side
Where the rake has turned the sand to thin ribs
Seared dry and chalky we can suck up the dust
Dragging it down deep like smoke.

These years in one breath
Melt in the mouth
I savour their silver scales like bells.
These new sprats are netted now
Glass jars too full to put down safely, they will drown in air
Best fed with crumbs one by one.
Each year another crumb until they are fat to burst then
Sick and spinning as before
Back into this wood and another track.

The boy is there again.
Blond with bubble cheeks he is cradled by her
She talks now or rather sings
Soft wool spills from her gills smothering him in silent songs
It’s me that hears nothing
As I only have eyes
And I more than know this fish of fifty years
Living in a glass jar
In the tall wood that waits to stir the dream.