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Elizabeth Veldon


At the Roman baths

Balls of grime rolled from skin and
‘Prey unto the Lord for me,’ said
The spirit of Paschasius
In St. Gregory’s myth, ‘You will know
Your prayers have been heard if,
When you come back,
I am not here.’

Something hangs around the water channels,
Something indefinable and here is the hot room
And here the cold, the place of the fires
And a grate for the effluent. From the street the path
Winds – the dead walk only straight roads.


From the shore every ship looks small

After Beowulf

It started with silence - only the sea voice
Calling silences, a speck on it’s surface
Betraying their presence and me on the shore

They come slowly as all boats come
When viewed from the shore. Closer and the
Stink is overpowering, even from a distance:
Closeness resolving into sweets by night,
In the day desperation for land, the sight of
Land ‘Look! Look! Land!’

The shore life – nets and small boats –
‘Look! Look! Land!’ They step off
The stink is deafening. Sea, I’ve heard,
Breeds madness – the endless movement –
The stink –

I smell murder on the air.


Late Spring poems.

For my mother (04.05.06)

I’ve found the tune your father sung
‘There’s a valley in Spain’
But your corpse is on the flat
And only traffic passes.

The trees have a light bloom this year;
Winter held on until April
But earlier today when the sun came out
The Cherry opposite the house
Dropped a blossom.

Last night the moon off white, pale green,
Had a profile.


Torlygith to Ethelberga

Bede 4:9

The dead by their nature are not able to involve themselves
In the affairs of the living.
St. Augustine.

Now my bones crumble around me like chalk
She comes, descends on the same golden threads
By which she climbed hand over fist
To heaven.

In addition to the known narrative (dutifully relayed
By The Venerable Bede) should be added:
What use are golden threads to me when
Sinews can not complete their task? (No answer.)
Why must you, after decreeing my waking hours
And my sleeping hours, now decree the hour of my death?
(No answer.) Have you no tongue?
But the dead do not speak and the living need
Their myths of easy passages.

I have been dumb some time now.
Ascend on golden threads to a heaven
Bright with stars glued in their spheres.


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