Alison Lock - Poet, Writer
By the River Dwyfor
Under the great umbrella of a beech tree, the river shillies around rocks
while they resist the force of the current. Some are boulders, sturdy, unyielding,
others are dry, moss-covered, but all are as damp as the slip-grey sky.
Around me the air sings, the wind carries its song in a lullaby.
I rest at the feet of the great trunk – all its years of growth, pock-marked
by the seasons, challenged by lichen and other extraordinary growths.
Above, the leaves criss-cross each other, not quite touching, allowing space
for the air to filter, opening a multitude of crevices for the sky to enter.
Air, water, leaf, all meet at a place that is neither surface nor place, unowned by all.
A rope hangs from a branch, knotted at the end, slung from a strong limb, ready
to swing across the river in a child’s leap. Ivy graces the rocks on the bank
where the moss-cladding is deep and green and velvet.
Himalayan Balsam sways its sex, opening to the damp air.
On the far bank, the brambles etch their shapes, stretching their thorny feelers.
A moment of sun breaks through the cloud and the colours change; the water
is quick-bright, magnifying the stony bed, catching the tails of ghost-minnows
darting in and out of the shallows.
Leaves, grass, a ricketty fence, all choose new colours from an artist’s pallet.
The water downstream is feather-white as it leaps over the rocks, and an ash tree
waves its flags looking as if it will take-off, each leaf buffeting
one against the other, jostling, vying for a glimpse of the sun.
A tiny black and red winged creature, searches the length of my trouser leg.
My boots crunch on the sprinkling of beechmast on the ground around the tree.
With my back against the trunk of the beech I meld into the roots – my nest
of numbness as my human bones are flesh deep in tree and river and rock.
Published in Words for the Wild, January 2020.
On Black Hill
The grouse are chortling
as we three clamber and slip
and they, in that know-it-all way
at a white wedding
chatter beneath the brims
of their whipped-up hats.
On one side of the track, on risen knolls;
the shooting boxes. No sentinels
at the butts today – their weapons arrested
hung up in the gunneries while
the beaters in their stockinged feet
dub their boots in tallow light.
We make out the rise of the hill
thickened with snow
but not that we are watched.
silent eyes, hair ears, twitch-flighty
sizing up our dog
as he bounds the tussocks.
A buck hare, fleet as speed
flicks a 'bog cotton' tip
as we hear a yap, a yelp
on the slippery bog.
Our dog is a laughing stock
– a new subject for the grouse of Black Hill.
Delayed Murmuration: No Mexican Wave
Last year, before Autumn curled the leaves
or formed a lingering blanket of neutral greys
there came a reminder of days gone by
like a swatch of holiday snaps, impossibly blue.
Already the birds were poised in migratory black, three deep
on the telegraph wires, pole to pole, waiting
for the messenger of mercury, and just
when it was time for the turn of the current on the equinox tide
something happened to change their minds.
Whether it was the unseasonal heat, the unfiltered
dusk or the abundance of sodium streetlight
at a time when we expect undulations of Mexican waves
– we don't know –
they simply stopped dusting-off their long haul wings.
Perhaps it was the way the sun spilled chilli red, tie-dying
the sky with African marigolds on a hue of Hibiscus.
Whatever: it stopped the starlings from daubing their arrow heads
or splashing their petrol hides across our Northern sky.
Maybe those wires transmitted a secret code, broadcasting
from the churches that carved lyrebirds had escaped
from the misericords. Even the robins ceased their posturing
as they passed olive branches from one beak to another,
while timid sparrows plumped their breasts, the air cooing
with Taj Mahal dove lovers playing peek-a-boo
around the pillars of the town hall, flirting
in the line scented air as simple songbirds harmonised.
There were no swan songs.
'A Slither of Air' - my first collection - published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
A Slither Of Air
through a slither of air
bringing your ocean to me
filling the deep well of my living
room. I see the beach where
your breath is fearless and
over my shoulder
a memory of you running blind
like the sea birds now.
My heart beat then
and later to a rhythm that defined you.
Now your feet sink into the sand as
you press the text
of your life
into my uncoiled
After you were born, we planted a tree
a sapling pear.
The glint of a spade in the afternoon sun
a signal for the soil to nourish with tenderness
a ritual renewed by a new-born's snuffle.
In time the blossom is as white as your flesh
is pink. Fragile heads that flicker in the breeze
in a salutation to Hera.
Then come the fruits, kernels of creation.
Each one a single drop of tear.
Time waits for the flight of an angel's wing
as our abundant crop hails his first cry
our blessing ? and so you were born,
a slow motion memory of pear parting tree.
Her loved ones
sleep the naked moon
etched on black.
As she drifts and dips
her beak turns
a swarm of creatures
skitter the sand.
Her wingspan scoops
a green under-layer
her regal silhouette.
her deep black rudders
shift, as seamless
as her gimlet eye
spots a flip
then with precision
her neck re-forms
in a graceful arch.
The Waiting Room (after Miss Havisham)
My lady waits at the table head.
The mice are hungry, the cake disgorged
the hind legs of a cockroach rattle
as a meal of a fly comes loose from a beam.
My quick eye calculates in hanks
cordage for warp, threads for weft.
I bridle up, ready to sling my net
from the limb of the stilled hour hand.
I lick my lips around the word ?embellishment?.
With the effort of birthing I let out my silks
tautly tatting, inventing the wheel
with spirals that drip by the light of the moon
fine-edged in parallel hoops.
I cast off. We wait.
Review of A Slither of Air on Amazon:
5.0 out of 5 stars Very highly recommended, 18 July 2012
By MoonHare - See all my reviews. This review is from: A Slither of Air (Paperback)
Alison Lock's collection of poetry is wonderful. Full of subtle twists and delicate juxtaposition, even the poetry tackling difficult subjects has an airy, uplifting quality. She picks her words so carefully that the end result is almost edible and reading each poem is like tasting a little piece of her world. With tantalising hints of autobiography, beautiful observations of the natural world and startling perceptions of life's traumas, A Slither Of Air is an unusual and mesmerising book of poems that had me gripped throughout - from the heart-searing 'Kandahar' to the resonance of 'Over and Over' to the epic styling of 'Where The Cinnabar Moth...' I enjoyed the whole volume and am looking forward to Lock's collection of short stories, due to be released next year. Judging by her poetry, they're bound to be insightful and intoxicating. Buy this book - you won't be disappointed.
'celebration' film of poetry by poet and filmmaker, Simon Zonenblick.