Phil Wood


Out of the corner of my eye

I spy a girl chasing a ball

spinning down the sloping streets.

The terraces thread the cwm, glisten

a rosary of hope. Through the rain

ghosts of truant boys hurtle past.

Their hair's wetted coal-black; their eyes

water weighted, near blind;

they chase the girl pursuing her world.

The wind is a miner whistling tunes

out of habit. The shift's over -

the mine sparkles a bracelet of ponds.

These ghosted boys, their molecules

shimmer in watery lungs: they're out

of breath. The girl splashes puddles.

The body of a miner is sixty

percent water. It's less for wives.

And when I knock on my gran's door

I hear the slowness of her tears

soften my words. I unwrap gossip.

Her boys are long departed.

Rainy Days

Clay clung to her boots -'ta-ra' she heard, 'ta-ra'

and she saw them all marching proud and then

the whistle blew. She heard their panting fear

running until beyond the trenches her boy

anonymous, wedded with wire, unblinking

across a conscripted land. With poppy-red

lips she kissed her soldier boy and bedded

the mud with memories, gunsmoke clouds

hurried away.

Phil Wood © 2016