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A half-dozen poems.



In Memory of the British Museum.

Apples sweet and burnt, small apples burnt, roses and the juices of apples.
Come now,
Come and take them from me.
They have hurt and anguished my heart.
Nothing can be tasted
Nothing can be felt.
Only, only the sea where you have touched the water somewhere else.
Only the sea.
Only the sun, only the sun where it has touched you.
Softly the air is falling, air lambent and wet, soft air and the last lights of summer.


The Rose.

The Rose turns.
And I see her;
And it must be through her that I move.
Softly she sounds, softly sounding within her sorrow.
Her cloak,
Embellished here and there with forest birds,
Is gathered in with petal, thorn and bract, about the cuff and throat.
A peal of bells is woven through with thread, around the nape and head,
Reminding me of something he once said….
In red, so reminiscent of the dead.
I turn, I turn to her in a shivering wakeful sleep
Stained with the memory
Of desire
For something good that was not mine to keep.
And she nurses me like a sick child would be nursed.
Enwrapped within her gown and interfaced,
Her innocent hand against my burning cheek.
I, torn by fragments of my violent mind, she suffers to bide….
Oh….a temps de ma dolor….
His dark head thrusts my heart to pain.
Incapable of more, I hide,
I cannot
Sublimate my love…
Ah, so she rocks me and I groan.
Thus, to her heart she takes my own.
And, fretfully I fall to rest,
Within her gentle gentleness,
Awhile at least.
Remembering his kindness as I sleep….



Advent is early this year….

What of the earth? I have drawn it to my knees.
I wait in muted quiet. What of the earth?
It cannot love alone.
What of the terrible ferocity of leaves that fall so deadly calm that nothing breathes?
What of the earth?
Why do you sigh? Why, does he seem so tired over the plated table and the wine? Why…
Can she not dream. Can she not?
Must she ask:
Must she keep asking?
What of the crucified children in their graves?
What of the earth?
What of the avenues of blood and sugar; will it be nice to eat here?
Is this the rock?
Is this the red of the shadow of his love for the lost?
What of the crushing of the forlorn and the old? What?
Where are they walking?
Can you not see?
Can you not see them stoop beneath the velvet of the curtain edge?
Isn’t that blood?
Isn’t that the empty glass from yesterday?
When shall we dine? When shall we sleep in the silken sheets of early autumn and fashion the limbs of infants yet to die?
When did I pull the petals from the flowers? Why did I laugh?
Are you not cold?
Can it be winter so soon and no fire lit? So dark,
And no fire lit.


Part iii
(For Mr Moore)*

Coming down
Right through
A centre point I never knew I
Had. Then you, holding my hand, seemed far…

Yes, dear, I hear, I hear the falling water sing like…
Well, like singing rings around my ears
And heart.
Then, through again, another point of place,
Another turn.
Then swirling thus
I come to rest and, facing my annihilation,
I see that I’m still here.
And then I see.


*See Nicholas Moore, Lacrimae Rerum: last poems (1988) pp.60-62. Moore’s last poem, left incomplete at the time of his death, was said by him to be in three parts but only the first two parts have survived.


The Lowering of Light.

We must meet.
And what has struck, the slight touch of a hand, the glimmer of a thought, shall hold.
I have followed a line across a horizon
With my eyes
And they shall see
You in
We must meet.
A leaf settles on the earth
A bird seems to fall.
All things rest
And so
We must meet.
There is no time like the present and
Presently, there is no time.


Róisín Dubh.
For my Piaras

Your petals lie
Across the
Against the melancholic wind
And torn.
Timed against the moons and seas.
As if you
Waited for Deirdre’s cheek
Or Oisín’s hand
And none came.
But know that I have loved you, nonetheless.

Johanna Higgins was selected for inclusion in the Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology 2020 to be published by Eyewear Press. She is currently working on her first anthology of poetry, The Etymology of Think. She is a lawyer who investigates miscarriages of justice as a Commissioner for the Criminal Cases Review Commission and is a member of the Royal Historical Society. She had a Cumbrian childhood but now lives in Ireland with her family.

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