Dream horse

Let me walk out of this dream
Into a field just touched by morning
There to find a fine horse standing
Low gold fire on his dark back.

I would approach him, hand held out
In truce. Gifts given, he would deign
To have me stroke his arching neck,
Speak softly in his all-hearing ear.

He would understand; we would be friends.
In his bulk and warmth and strength
I would lose my fears, my smallness,
Forget all other things.

He waits for me, quiet and patient
Just beyond the edge of thought.
But still the fence broods, high and solid
And I cannot find the gate.


What dream is this that comes upon me now;
Appearing out of nowhere, filled with fields
Of flowers, summer grass and grazing cows
Deep in some hidden corner of the Weald.
My younger self strolls easy, dog at heel
Along a sunken lane roofed in by trees
While overhead the broad-winged buzzard wheels
And all is as it was, and meant to be.
But on the grey horizon, dark clouds grow;
The grass bends in the breeze; and all at once
I see a hooded figure on the road
Ahead. No time to turn. No place to run.
A simple wish for one more carefree day
Now haunted by a fear that has no name.


Wanted to see if I could stick to the basic sonnet formula while mixing things up a bit, so I tried playing with the end-words, allowing myself more latitude than usual with the consonants as long as I maintained the correct vowel rhyme. Turns out that breaking one rule consistently and deliberately is actually just imposing a new one. Interesting. N.

A new arrival

Catherine’s piano

Something’s up.
We can tell
As soon as we walk in.

In breathless reverence
We follow you, like visitors
Here to greet a sleeping newborn.

The old upright,
Mourned but unmissed,
Is gone. Now all we see

Is this half-dozen cubic yards
Of softly-gleaming, midnight-lacquered magic
Parked here like a limousine.

But no mere car
Could make my eyes pop
And mouth drop open

Like this boudoir grand
Black as a conductor’s tail-coat
Shiny as a pair of patent shoes.

Half a lifetime’s working, saving,
Dreaming and imagining,
Irresistible to eyes and hands.

Your joy rings out in every note
Of my little one’s halting scales
And almost-there arpeggios,

The roll of sound voluptuous
As the piano’s planes and curves:
To think it might have been condemned

To drawing-room adornment,
A fancy piece of furniture
Touched only to be dusted.

Inspired by the magnificent new (to her) instrument our daughter’s piano teacher surprised us with when we arrived at her house on Friday. Most folks, having saved up for 25 years, would blow the money on a car or a holiday. So God bless Catherine for choosing a second-hand grand piano – and, what’s more, using it for teaching, not just her own amusement. I’d never encountered a ‘boudoir grand’ before: apparently it’s the next size up from a ‘baby’. And although it’s quite petite compared to a full-size concert grand, it’s still an imposing instrument, and makes even my 10-year-old’s Grade 3 pieces sound like a Rachmaninov recital. Wonderful.