A white finger of frost along the spine
Of the country, and the first rumours of the first
Female Archbishop of Canterbury: while still
In her cradle the Lord filled
Her to the brim, and drove headlong
The querulous demons whose riddles
End only in debt and pain; her dimpled
Right hand seemed to grasp and poise
A miniature crozier, and her eyes
Peered through tears at the sins of the world.


Weeping also, a woman in a coal-black dress says Adios
Amigo. She is fleeing
The grip of the huntsman, his suddenly
Drawn knife, his wispy moustache, harsh stubble
And secretly melting heart; through a tangle of russet briars
He watches her plunge into the woods
And be gone. Which way is home? The feathery bracken
Sighs and stirs, hisses around his knees, gets caught
In his gaiters. I spy, he thinks, with these tough stems
In my eye, something beginning with green.


He called me better looking than a newborn canary, then asked
If I was asking him to dance. A cheap shot,
I trilled back, from a cheapskate. But here, at any rate, was one
Sharp enough to descry the thread that ties
Cause and effect. In a wing-beat we’d agreed on what
We’d need to learn to love: guilt,
Unending guilt . . . and after a few
Dizzying flutters of fear, that proved not so difficult. Let Rome
In Tiber melt, we’d cry, pirouetting
Through patient skies, high above the city’s lights and sirens.

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