“Rise and Fall” by Stephen Kingsnorth

Where she bustled, cleaned where cramped,
now covers, not her dusters lift,
in rise and fall, not frisk but slow,
just as slight rasp within her throat.
The rumble snore, heard, nightmare woke,
has given way to lip-drawn gums
and blister tongue, no longer talk.

Though morning star is glowing now
and blushing sky turns indigo,
the tears, which gutter wax have cried,
are globuled marble, beehive gold;
what sense remains, light pheromones.
Though candle stick, sea craters wane,
I hear what passes for the rain,
not patter, drum or timpani,
but sluggish roll, reluctant, pane,
the dribble afterthought refrain,
meniscus holding back, again.

This musty fug in nostril, mouth,
uncertain mix of taste and smell,
both pillow damp, shroud counterpane,
the nit, the gnat, mosquito net,
a threnody from filmy lace,
all wing and mesh and hanging legs;
they flitter past my sweaty lobe.
How can this squadron fill the space?

Awhile we wait, so tired yet wake;
it was more often her, this place.
But now she’s worn and soon at rest,
here listening to my mother lie.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 180 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope, printed journals and anthologies.


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