Two Poems

Michael Longley

Lizard Orchid

All ears in the Mugello
What with the far cuckoo,
The harmonising frog
And crickets everywhere,
Domestic sounds as well –
Heidi baking a chestnut
Cake, Lorenzo’s ladder
Scraping the cherry tree –
We find in Silvano’s
Sloping upper meadow
Close to the wood, regal
Among seeding grasses,
An orchid, each lower lip
A streamer, extroversion
Requiring subtle breezes,
A name to silence cuckoo
And frog, lizard orchid.

Did the muddy boots of Tommies
Really bring back to England
From the Great War lizard-orchid
Seeds – stalks taller than you’d think,
Tongues little-finger-long, ribbons
For widow hats – dead soldiers
Returning, adhesive souls?

Two Otters

She toddles to the lake without a name,
Your two-year-old, and watches an otter,
Her first otter, half-expected by you
Because, when you were expecting her,
You watched your last otter from this spot,
Your body a holt for otter and child.