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By the River Dwyfor

Under the great umbrella of a beech tree, the river shillies around rocks

while they resist the force of the current. Some are boulders, sturdy, unyielding,

others are dry, moss-covered, but all are as damp as the slip-grey sky.

Around me the air sings, the wind carries its song in a lullaby.

I rest at the feet of the great trunk – all its years of growth, pock-marked

by the seasons, challenged by lichen and other extraordinary growths.

Above, the leaves criss-cross each other, not quite touching, allowing space

for the air to filter, opening a multitude of crevices for the sky to enter.

Air, water, leaf, all meet at a place that is neither surface nor place, unowned by all.

A rope hangs from a branch, knotted at the end, slung from a strong limb, ready

to swing across the river in a child’s leap. Ivy graces the rocks on the bank

where the moss-cladding is deep and green and velvet.

Himalayan Balsam sways its sex, opening to the damp air.

On the far bank, the brambles etch their shapes, stretching their thorny feelers.

A moment of sun breaks through the cloud and the colours change; the water

is quick-bright, magnifying the stony bed, catching the tails of ghost-minnows

darting in and out of the shallows.

Leaves, grass, a ricketty fence, all choose new colours from an artist’s pallet.

The water downstream is feather-white as it leaps over the rocks, and an ash tree

waves its flags looking as if it will take-off, each leaf buffeting

one against the other, jostling, vying for a glimpse of the sun.

A tiny black and red winged creature, searches the length of my trouser leg.

My boots crunch on the sprinkling of beechmast on the ground around the tree.

With my back against the trunk of the beech I meld into the roots – my nest

of numbness as my human bones are flesh deep in tree and river and rock.

Published in Words for the Wild, January 2020.

On Black Hill

The grouse are chortling

as we three clamber and slip

and they, in that know-it-all way

at a white wedding

chatter beneath the brims

of their whipped-up hats.

On one side of the track, on risen knolls;

the shooting boxes. No sentinels

at the butts today – their weapons arrested

hung up in the gunneries while

the beaters in their stockinged feet

dub their boots in tallow light.

We make out the rise of the hill

thickened with snow

but not that we are watched.

silent eyes, hair ears, twitch-flighty

sizing up our dog

as he bounds the tussocks.

A buck hare, fleet as speed

flicks a 'bog cotton' tip

as we hear a yap, a yelp

on the slippery bog.

Our dog is a laughing stock

– a new subject for the grouse of Black Hill.

Delayed Murmuration: No Mexican Wave

Last year, before Autumn curled the leaves

or formed a lingering blanket of neutral greys

there came a reminder of days gone by

like a swatch of holiday snaps, impossibly blue.

Already the birds were poised in migratory black, three deep

on the telegraph wires, pole to pole, waiting

for the messenger of mercury, and just

when it was time for the turn of the current on the equinox tide

something happened to change their minds.

Whether it was the unseasonal heat, the unfiltered

dusk or the abundance of sodium streetlight

at a time when we expect undulations of Mexican waves

– we don't know –

they simply stopped dusting-off their long haul wings.

Perhaps it was the way the sun spilled chilli red, tie-dying

the sky with African marigolds on a hue of Hibiscus.

Whatever: it stopped the starlings from daubing their arrow heads

or splashing their petrol hides across our Northern sky.

Maybe those wires transmitted a secret code, broadcasting

from the churches that carved lyrebirds had escaped

from the misericords. Even the robins ceased their posturing

as they passed olive branches from one beak to another,

while timid sparrows plumped their breasts, the air cooing

with Taj Mahal dove lovers playing peek-a-boo

around the pillars of the town hall, flirting

in the line scented air as simple songbirds harmonised.

There were no swan songs.


'A Slither of Air' - my first collection - published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

A Slither Of Air

We speak

through a slither of air

gulls hover

bringing your ocean to me

filling the deep well of my living

room. I see the beach where

your breath is fearless and

over my shoulder

a memory of you running blind

brakes screeching

like the sea birds now.

My heart beat then

and later to a rhythm that defined you.

Now your feet sink into the sand as

you press the text

of your life

into my uncoiled


The Blessing

After you were born, we planted a tree

a sapling pear.

The glint of a spade in the afternoon sun

a signal for the soil to nourish with tenderness

a ritual renewed by a new-born's snuffle.

In time the blossom is as white as your flesh

is pink. Fragile heads that flicker in the breeze

in a salutation to Hera.

Then come the fruits, kernels of creation.

Each one a single drop of tear.

Time waits for the flight of an angel's wing

as our abundant crop hails his first cry

our blessing ? and so you were born,

a slow motion memory of pear parting tree.

Sea Swan

Her loved ones

sleep the naked moon

white crescents

etched on black.

As she drifts and dips

her beak turns

a swarm of creatures

skitter the sand.

Her wingspan scoops

a green under-layer

drips, rippling

her regal silhouette.


her deep black rudders

shift, as seamless

as her gimlet eye

spots a flip

then with precision

her neck re-forms

in a graceful arch.

The Waiting Room (after Miss Havisham)

My lady waits at the table head.

Bride-in waiting.

The mice are hungry, the cake disgorged

the hind legs of a cockroach rattle

as a meal of a fly comes loose from a beam.

My quick eye calculates in hanks

cordage for warp, threads for weft.

I bridle up, ready to sling my net

from the limb of the stilled hour hand.

I lick my lips around the word ?embellishment?.

With the effort of birthing I let out my silks

tautly tatting, inventing the wheel

with spirals that drip by the light of the moon

fine-edged in parallel hoops.

I cast off. We wait.

Review of A Slither of Air on Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars Very highly recommended, 18 July 2012

By MoonHare - See all my reviews. This review is from: A Slither of Air (Paperback)

Alison Lock's collection of poetry is wonderful. Full of subtle twists and delicate juxtaposition, even the poetry tackling difficult subjects has an airy, uplifting quality. She picks her words so carefully that the end result is almost edible and reading each poem is like tasting a little piece of her world. With tantalising hints of autobiography, beautiful observations of the natural world and startling perceptions of life's traumas, A Slither Of Air is an unusual and mesmerising book of poems that had me gripped throughout - from the heart-searing 'Kandahar' to the resonance of 'Over and Over' to the epic styling of 'Where The Cinnabar Moth...' I enjoyed the whole volume and am looking forward to Lock's collection of short stories, due to be released next year. Judging by her poetry, they're bound to be insightful and intoxicating. Buy this book - you won't be disappointed.

 'celebration' film of poetry by poet and filmmaker, Simon Zonenblick.

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