Two Poems

Anne Rouse

Christmas Break

We’ve floored it from London.
The bridge winches up; the moat bares
To green algae silk, kitchen relics,
The bones of suicides.

The snow, fine as bride’s
Fine lace, stacks up its trousseau:
A terrain in bedsheets, smoothed from memory.
The town’s dead as midnight.

Rushing the houses of the estate,
The wind skims the roof
Like a bruising hand.
From now, a dining-table

Accommodates six at Scrabble
And a week’s career beneath
The fairy lights: a family circuit
Closing like a wreath.


Out till 4 o’clock dancing, they’re
Back on the ward at half-seven from Sligo,
Vigorously turning the sheets.
I can’t get up no

A double amputee fell
Off a wheelchair and began to spin
Until we could raise him.
I can’t get up

A cancer case, deep yellow, spoke of
The discos at Bart’s where he’d been a porter.
We slow slow-danced, I braced him for x-ray.
no I can’t get up

The sun floods the sluice room.
The young tree outside is a christening white.
He’s drawn up his swollen legs and stopped breathing.
no I can’t get up

Neither Luke nor John nor the patron
Of wanderers nor Mary herself help the sister
To dial. Women shriek down the phone.