Poems from Cold Harbour

Harm and the Man

That bone
skimming my flesh
as I reach for you mid-
     is called
the ilium.

Too close to the surface
of your skin

it must have been cold
and you quite starved

as you hunkered among echoes
and the scent of resin
in the belly of the horse.
Alert for
an opening.

This time
after such an absence

there are no
burning towers

only a woman
who is reduced
to watching you


even as you come


but does not run from
the treachery

of your
dwindling arms.

from the sequence The Greenwood Speaks: Twelve Trees of Ogham


Loved by him whose wand of hazel
is entwined by sinuous serpents

prized by druids and by dowsers
who divine the springs of wisdom:

fat with knowledge are the salmon
pliant as the hazel branches

which overhang the well of Connla
let their fruits fall in the waters.

Thoughts move swiftly as quicksilver
through the minds of those who eat them.


On a rowan wheel, spin life’s thread.
Drive your sheep through a rowan hoop.
To keep a ghost from wandering,
with berried branches stake the dead.

Deck your milk shed with white flowers.
Guard your boat from the whip of the wave
and the door of your house with a rowan sprig.
Carve your runes on a rowan stave.