Five Poems

Michael Longley

Eva Braun

The moon beams like Eva Braun’s bare bottom
On rockets aimed at London, then at the sky
Where, in orbit to the dark side, astronauts
Read from Mein Kompf to a delighted world.

Geisha

Though the partition opens at a touch
She makes a pin-hole and watches people
Watching the sky where a heavy bomber
Journeys to her mirror and jar of rouge.

Terezin

No room has ever been as silent as the room
Where hundreds of violins are hung in unison.

Blitz

They empty the swimming-baths and lay out the dead.
There are children who haven’t learnt to swim, bundled
With budgerigars and tabbies under the stairs.
Shockwaves are wrinkling the water that isn’t there.

Stone-in-Oxney

for George Newson

At a table which seems to take root in the lawn
We breakfast late to a single propeller’s drone,
The ghost of a Spitfire over Stone-in-Oxney
Or a Stuka, its turning-circle that cloud-gap
Or wherever you point to show me a bird, its dive
Low as the ceiling-beams in Chapel Cottage.
We bump against pilots who hang out of the sky.
Someone’s hand is overshadowing the place-names,
Tracking the migration of wheatears, of birds
Who cross the Channel and make their landfall here.
Let him spread his fingers on a broken wing, now
Reed warblers are singing at Wittersham Levels
And at Small Hythe and Peening Quarter nightingales.