Sarah: pregnancy 2

Your shape: we know
you're one of those women who
become a pumpkin early. Later
you'll place your hand under
your belly the way pumpkins
are sometimes raised on boards
so they ripen dry. Your face
however your body swells remains a girl
amazed at a gift she can't believe in
while all your cells - all your former cells -
seem to be singing from a polished throat.
The percussive kicks are simply music
this time around as if your heart grew limbs
and time thickens and slows in the remembered way
and races in the remembered way.

The death of old women
for Diana Bridge

Our mothers: we've described
symptoms you rarely share
outside the family home
and not often there: a scalp
affliction, the body's efforts
without conscious consent, it seems
to breathe. What kills us:
lack of air. And how death comes
like someone climbing weary stairs
for the last time, forbearing
to ever look back again
on the view below. I mentioned
a blue colouring like the shading of a lamp.
You described a fearful rattling sound.
Not all of these were shared. Death
is individually tailored, like all things.
A dusty angel, with heavy wings
and a pocket of tools, like a lock-breaker
but gentleness as well, a concern
to take each prize into his hands.


Hours in a car. Derbyshire - entering it
As Eliza Bennet did, aware.
Was it the best county, truly?
Or racing through Lancashire - narrowing
into long windows for weaving
as long as the light lasts.
The backbone of England - the Pennines
like travelling over your own body
the unseen, supine sweep of it.
But the best moment: seeing
in a field of knee-high grass
with a flattened two-wheel track
a farmer commanding his border collie
`Sit' and the moment the car passes
man and dog in adoration
you see the very instant
the dog's body comes to rest
and touches and flattens the grass.

(c) Elizabeth Smither. All rights reserved.

The bottom half of an image of a flax frond.