Poems from Harvest of Light

Foreign Travel

While travelling in France I saw my father, in a park, in a small town. My eyes had already turned to the gate where he appeared, as though I had been expecting him. My sister was with me and she too recognised him instantly, although he had altered considerably since his death.

His funeral had taken place only three years before, yet he looked much older. When he died on that hot summer morning he had been middle-aged; now he was an old man. He entered the park and sat on a bench by a stone fountain, feeding pigeons with bread, in a country he had never been to.

Time passed, the shadows grew, and when the bread had gone the pigeons left. We sat on our bench, and he sat on his.

When finally he got up and left the park, we longed to follow him. But we knew it would be useless. He would only lead us down the streets of a strange town, in the late afternoon, to a house we could not enter.


Other Air

Dusk, its flesh

blue and luminous.

From the familiar

direction of the woods

night is coming.

To the left,

a river, a patient

tearing of the silence.

To the right

a pasture where sheep graze

deep in space.


the path evaporates

and feet stumble

into other air —

the place that is always waiting.

In a house

high on the road

a hand draws a curtain, slowly


in a previous century


in some other eye.

Floods in the Third World
God knows no photography.
Gorgeous light spills
over the disaster,
huge, opalescent, the wild
and perfect spectrum of instants
that shape the faces
of the dead child
and her mother,
turning so slowly
in helicopter water at dawn
and disappears.
And nothing stops, and nothing hesitates, all
continues still in perpetual motion.
And the dying must die with this light
in their mouths, the same light
that makes the palms around them
heave emerald from out of the night
as at Creation.
And flowers in my chest too,
so quickly and often and carelessly, Hugh,
as I walk you to school in small England,
your breath in the frost,
in the worldly, morning road
among the rushing cars, so
ridiculous in the gorgeous light.