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Two pages.

From Now the Day is Over




NOW THE DAY is over in the primary school hall
on Friday afternoon as soon as night begins to fall
and shadows of the evening start to steal across the wall.

It is a Church of England school, and named after Saint Paul
whose church is risen over and above the playground toilet wall
and here an infant wonders what’s the meaning of it all.

What were the shadows stealing? How does night
draw nigh? The light takes flight. The night falls from the sky
onto the earth. The hand of God is feeling for us all
when we have felt the call to wonder, why not I?

The shadows they were bearing gold out of the lovely world,
but that was years before I heard the name of Sabine Baring-Gould,
but saw the shadows curling, curdled, falling as they rolled. The child
was being told about the baby Jesus and a stable stall
when he was seven years old. In no time it is spring
with little lambs about the fold. But were we being fooled?

The Birth of Christ. The Fall of Man. The infant Puzzles at it All.


STRANGE TWINS are Fey and Fay, as green or yellow, grey or gray.
Cadaverous Fey: a grim grave-stone grotesque: foul air, wet rot,
and broken drains; cancerous advance; a rancid taste
of mouth decay; a disappointing dawning of the First of May,
abject and all agley. It should have been Fay’s day,
fair play, gay yellowing of gray, enhanced frivolity, the prance
of a principal boy, panto romance, pubertal efflorescence:
an effulgence twined with guilt and fatally putrescence.

Behind the masque implied are machinations of an imp
pulling levers of machinery so strings make flap fay’s wings.
See how away fay swings across the shaky painted flats.

The beach is ochreous; the beech is verdigris in shade.
Mind-dark is fey, where fay is milkmaids in a ditch.
And fey and fay lie as they lay, twined strands of DNA.

Crepuscular the picture of a dusk admixture, night and day.
The play could well go either way, a fixture twixt
a grey bloodless ghost and a gay popinjay.


Michael Haslam, born Bolton, Lancashire 1947, has lived near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, since 1970. Publications include various ragged fringes (Turpin 1975); Continual Song (Open Township 1986); A Whole Bauble (Carcanet 1995); The Music Laid Her Songs in Language (Arc 2001); A Sinner Saved by Grace (Arc 2005); Mid Life (Shearsman 2007); The Quiet Works (Oystercatcher 2009); A Cure for Woodness (Arc 2010); Scaplings (Calder Valley Poetry 2017). Ickerbrow Trig (Shearsman 2020). Cholmondeley Award Winner 2011.

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