- Three Poems
Sky’s pulsing blue beginsto fade, slips in incremental shadesone frame of moment at a time. In the giant oak,spring’s curled-up buds reach upto sky with clumsy stabs,while rooks begin their strangetimed dance to bring dusk in— roost in pairson one branch, hop, skip, to another—scuffle, shuffle, hike wide ridesround rippling air as we would tossand turn in bed before we settle.
The felled sunshoots up sprays of red and gold,in which the cooling air basksand glows, before it darkens on one birdleft alone up there when the othersflutter down to the rookery.
To and Fro (Godstow Abbey)
I drive past Godstow ruins,squat walls thick abovethe Thames’ frosted flood-fields,one ancient window socketsenile out at sky, [End Page 570] and, among tumbled stones,a girl like the fair Rosamund,who was imprisoned here twice—first as a child, strictly schooled,and later a penitent, King Henry’sdiscarded concubine.
Friesiansgraze patches of thawed grass,nostrils blowing out white steam,dabchicks bob into the stream,geese gaggle, preen.
Two men in orange jumpsuitsdrill at the hump-backed bridge— and history wrapsitself around me, a trailing fur-lined cloak,hair shirt brushing beneath.
The Between Days
The just-deadare unquiet, caught in life’s residue—they caw and flap nearhalf-closed windows.
We will only escape themwith prayer and hymn—nail them down tightat their own crossroads.
The futurecranes its neck out for us,past the waiting grave—but we cannot shift yet to see,
barred as we areby time’s implacable edict. [End Page 571]
Olivia Byard is a British poet who grew up and attended university in Canada. Her third book of poetry, The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, was published by The Worple Press in April, 2015, and became The New Statesman’s recommended read. Olivia started and developed creative writing workshops for The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education over twenty-three years, and has also commented on social and cultural issues both in the UK and abroad.