A Wind-blown Dictionary
Evening – a way of evening out the odds
Between two lights
The sunlight and the unlight
Morning – a lament for the moon
Dusk – a speech defect
As of the dark making sound effects of sweeping
Dawn – out of the opening
The dew coming unseen down
Night after night – the inside out
Of all that which is not
Hour after hour – having only perishable belongings
And for three days an off-shore breeze
Meaning trees in italics with their tips bent over
Breathe to each other the names and secrets of the Wind
(which is the word that flicks through words
Searching for itself).
Piece for Grass-Flower, Bridge and Wind
Let the first player weigh as much as a grass-flower
And stand sideways to the weather
Let the second player establish a steel tower
And tie two cables across a river
Let the first player lean in a sudden shower
But be greener and even longer thereafter
Let the second player be riveted to the shore
And shiver there under increasing pressure
Now let the third player breathe at sixty miles an hour
Just cold enough to cleave the water
Let every wire becoming a howling choir
Let every grass-blade bend right over
When the strength of resolve of the second player
Succumbs to that power
Let the shape of the stalk of the first player
Stand all the stronger
And let the third player be blue but not there
As if made of thin air
At the end of the game let there be more
Emptiness than before
Cold Short-lived Howl
Wind! when you blow in black-outlined
Blow jealousy and restlessness and a leaf
Blow boredom and another leaf
Then fantasy and insanity
And a few small drops of rain
Then boredom again
And then a hissing sound
As if a single beam of cold
Whistled my name
Wind! when you blow pausing and shrieking and pausing again
Blow the high C of pure duration
Then birdsong again
Let me tell you
When you blow a commonplace
Through every window on this lane
When the bins crash over
And a woman stares at the washing up
And even the heart has chill blains
And a few small drops of rain
And a man comes out to sweep the driveway once again...
It’ll be finally (Wind!) my own howl who answers
[this space left blank for the people of Weymouth to howl]
Unspeakably – with a few small leaves
Then slam then fluttering – and then out
Leaving the neighbours all in grey
Stock still -
Leaning one way
Beaufort Poem Scale
As I speak (force 1) smoke rises vertically,
Plumed seeds fall in less than ten seconds
And gossamer, perhaps shaken from the soul’s hairbrush
Is seen in the air.
Oh yes (force 2) it’s lovely here,
One or two spiders take off
And there are willow seeds in clouds
But I keep feeling (force 3) a scintillation,
As if a southerly light breeze
Was blowing the tips of my thoughts
(force 4) and making my tongue taste strongly of italics
And when I pause it feels different
As if something had entered (force 5) whose hand is lifting my page
(force 6) So I want to tell you how a whole tree sways to the left
But even as I say so (force 7) a persistent howl is blowing my hair horizontal
And even as I speak (force 8) this speaking becomes difficult
And now my voice (force 9) like an umbrella shaken inside out
No longer shelters me from the fact (force 10)
There is suddenly a winged thing in the house,
Is it the wind?
Good morning to you, first faint breeze of unrest
No louder than the sound of the ear unzipping,
Late-comer, mere punctuation between seasons
Whom the Chinese call:
Forgive me, small-mouth,
I heard you criticise the earth
And stepped outside to see the fields ruffle your cloth,
But you were moving on:
One of many mass-produced particles of time
By whom the fruit has small frost-marks
And their hearts are already eroded and I
Come back, dark blast,
Soft-spoken curse of a place,
Hesitation on the A of Autumn,
But remember, Sz,
To be so hesitant, so barely there
That I can only see you through starlings
Whom you try this way and that like an uncomfortable coat
And then abandon.
Describe the Wind, Wind!
Describe the wind,
Say something marked by discomfort
That wanders many cities and harbours,
Not knowing the language.
Start with nothing but the hair blown sideways
And say: Gentle
Unglue the fog from the woods from the waist up
And speak disparagingly of leaves.
Be an old man blowing a shell.
Blow over the glumness of a girl
Looking up at the air in her red hood
And say: Suddenly
Then come down glittering
With a pair of ducks to a rooftop.
Go on. Be North-easterly.
Be enough chill to ripple a pool.
Be a rumour of Winter.
Whip the green cloth off the hills
And keep on quietly
Lifting the skirts of women not wanting to be startled
And pushing the clouds like towers of clean linen
Till you get to the Thin
Wait for five days
In which everything fades except aging.
Then try to describe being followed by heavy rain.
Describe voices and silverings,
From December to March.
Describe everything leaning.
Bring a tray of cool air to the back door.
Speak increasingly rustlingly.
Say something winged
On the branch of the heart.
Because you know these things.
You are both Breath
And your mouth mentions me
Just at the point where I end.
Interview with the Wind
(leave pauses for the wind to reply between verses)
Wind, once you existed as a person
Carrying your unguarded inner mouth wide open
And I notice a certain girlish nervousness
Sensitive to any tiny shock tell me
When did you lose your mind?
I love the kind of sounds you carry
I think of the wind as the earth’s voice muscle
Very twisted and springy but are you tired?
What happens to bells for example
Being lifted over hills?
There are millions of grass-nibs trying their names on the air.
There are phrases not fully expressed shaking the bars of the trees
Never any conclusion. Every decision being taken back again into movement.
And on a long road on a hot day,
When the wind gets under the wind
And blows up a mist of dust,
Obviously you speak in verse, obviously
You inhale for a while and then describe by means of breath
Some kind of grief, what is it?
A kind of kiss, a coldness.
And yet not uptight, not afraid to fondle.
Are you blind, is it some kind of blindness
All this breezing at dusk
Going on and on turning over and over
More and more leaves in the darkness?
I hear this huge hushed up
Inexhaustible millions of years old muttering,
Would you describe yourself, when running over grass for example,
Would you describe yourself as a light breeze
Or are you serious?
* Interview with the Wind is a new version of a poem originally published in The Guardian.
The Loneliness of Raking Leaves
I came to a hollow haunted by wind.
A quiet companion followed behind.
It was helpful and pensive and set to work
Searching for leaves. Not a word it spoke,
But stood for a while looking over my shoulder.
Then shyly lightly we leaned together
And walked in step till the dusk fell
I heard that creature sigh as it moved
Mouthing the earth, but in fact it proved
To be nothing. Nothing
But my own breathing.
So I worked on. God it was cold.
The day cast quickly its dark to the world.