The below poems are reproduced with the kind permission of Alice Guile and are copyright Alice Guile. Alice’s work may not be reproduced or copied in any manner without her express written permission. To find out more about Alice’s work please visit, https://www.facebook.com/houseofmarvelsdesign/.
The Stable Boy’s sister
You swapped the stamping of hooves
For mud thicker than Mother’s passion fruit jam
Sucking at your boots, sucking you in
Until you could hold out no longer.
The starched linen of my nightdress
Wound the world around me
Like a fly wrapped in spider’s silk
I would emerge in a darker land.
I struggled in the web, eyes fluttering,
Alice. My name travelled across the ocean
From parched lips disciplined by the shudder
Of machines. I never thought you would call.
I hauled the whole household back from a place
Where there is no King’s Shilling, no war
To end all wars. Bob is not gone.
Nightmare. Go back to sleep child.
Three days later the telegram comes, delivered
By a granite faced postman, his fourth that day.
I am already wearing black, I knew the hour.
Death cannot make a brother’s love lose its power.
A Kestrel on Christmas Eve
We floundered in a swirling ploughed field
Dragging up sole after tired sole
From the gulping of earth’s whitening jaws.
The sticky Buckinghamshire sod grappled
With our footfalls in the tireless habit
Of a scorned woman. Out to the far right
We saw a Kestrel effortlessly glide among stars
Her little wings held all the world in a weightless silence,
A feathered atlas above the phantom of a wheat field,
Steadfast as a mirage in the white confetti air.
I took the ring from my pocket as a sparkling wind
Bullied and beat those stubborn hedges.
Snow-flakes caressed our suffering fingertips
As the Kestrel hovered eternal like a sapphire
Cloaked in deep indigo twilight, Orion’s consort
Her obsidian eyes watched us drown each other’s lips.
Dazed and angelic, we were swallowed by the moon
As Kestrel hung still, sheltering us from the weather.
That field is gone. Stiff houses in pedantic rows
Clinical tarmac and town planners have now sanitised
That wild magical place where a Kestrel once hunted
Like a fulcrum of violence, a savage priestess of the moor
Just under the North Star. But they can never destroy
The memory of that moment in time, of nature’s blessing
On the Christmas Eve that I made you mine.
The Rose Garden
A bone crunching noise proceeds
The sudden silence, the smell of acrid smoke
Enveloping a blackened child’s car seat,
An abandoned suitcase or a single shoe,
Hot twisted spires of metal seem
Like something from a disaster film
But more solid, pulsating, unfolding in real time
In front of dewy bovine eyes that stare at the shell,
Faces white and hard as bone china, but with a fascination
Like that of hyenas at the sight of a carcass
But somewhere, far away from blood and tears
There is an empty corridor in an old house
Where a clock ticks unfeelingly,
Carefully tidying away the moment like a relic,
A used wedding dress or yellowing lace
Folded back and back into history.
Through the window, there is a quiet rose garden
Where a butterfly perches on an oak twig
And a sundial echoes with the laughter
Of long grown children.
All the pain that has ever been felt
Is sinking to the bottom of a bottomless pool,
Until all that can be seen are ripples
On the surface of a calm pond.