Baby-Sitting by Gillian Clarke

I am sitting in a strange room listening
For the wrong baby. I don’t love
This baby. She is sleeping a snuffly
Roseate, bubbling sleep; she is fair;
She is a perfectly acceptable child.
I am afraid of her. If she wakes
She will hate me. She will shout
Her hot midnight rage, her nose
Will stream disgustingly and the perfume
Of her breath will fail to enchant me.

To her I will represent absolute
Abandonment. For her it will be worse
Than for the lover cold in lonely
Sheets; worse than for the woman who waits
A moment to collect her dignity
Beside the bleached bone in the terminal ward.
As she rises sobbing from the monsterous land
Stretching for milk-familiar comforting,
She wil find me and between us two
It will not come. It will not come.

.

by Gillian Clarke
from The Sundial (Gwasg Gomer, 1978)

Ground Frost by Suzanne Iappu

The last leaves
Defiant in their rigor mortis.

Slow trickle of the sinus,
Flinty intake

And yew hedges iced with it.

The stare of the farmer’s wife
As the young girl behind the till
Hands back the wrong change.

.

by Suzanne Iuppa
(1992)

New Year by Alan Dickson

The year is ending
As it always ends
Rejoice and forget your sins;
The rain is falling
As it always falls,
And the sea comes rolling in.

The sun is rising
As it always rises.
Unfold the new year plan;
The wind is blowing
As it always blows
Fresh hope from man to man.

by Alan Dickson

(1992)

A Winter Visit by Dannie Abse

Now she’s ninety I walk through the local park
where, too cold, the usual peacocks do not screech
and neighbouring lights come on before it’s dark.

Dare I affirm to her, so agèd and so frail,
that from one pale dot of peacock’s sperm
spring forth all the colours of a peacock’s tail?

I do. But she like the sibyl says, ‘I would die’;
then complains. ‘This winter I’m half dead, son.’
And because it’s true I want to cry.

Yet must not (although only Nothing keeps)
for I inhabit a white coat not a black
even here – and am not qualified to weep.

So I speak of small approximate things,
of how I saw, in the park, four flamingoes
standing, one-legged on ice, heads beneath wings.

.

By Dannie Abse
from Welsh Retrospective

(1997)

.

Interesting fact: Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a Jewish family. He was the younger brother of politician and reformer Leo Abse and the eminent psychoanalyst, Wilfred Abse. Unusually for a middle-class Jewish boy, Dannie Abse attended St Illtyd’s College, a working-class Catholic school in Splott.