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Wampum               Ex Libris                                 

         A Pause in Time           Hothouse

 

Wampum

 

The pastel shells fan out and gleam

in heaps and jazz-streaked whorls

 

purple and cream and frou-frou frilled

azure and ivory cornucopias

 

three-cornered dolly mixture packets of my youth

a message from the Caribbean

 

picked from a cooling beach

beneath a red-streaked sky.

 

I shuffle the shells, hold up to English Light

am paid in shining colours

 

as once explorers were by greeting innocents.

Trapped sand trickles to the floor.

 

 

Val Doyle

winner,  Fleur McKittrick Cup, 2000

(via Broadstairs Poetry Society)

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Ex Libris

 

There is a feeling of relaxation

of getting down to the nitty gritty of life

as darkness settles on the bookshelves.

 

There's a whisper, a breath

as Grisham calls out to Chandler

and asks him how Marlowe is,

after this long time.

 

David Lodge says "Hi!"

to Virginia Woolf, who sticks her nose in the air

and sniffs, pretending not to hear.

 

Page speaks to turning page,

Bernard Shaw arguing sparkily with Rousseau,

and George Eliot agreeing warmly with Colette.

 

And arguments become philosophical discussions,

uninterrupted by page rustling readers,

who do tend to delay the measured exchange of opinion

writers prefer.

 

But as light creeps in, finger by finger,

covers pull together their splayed leaves

and stand upright, ready to take the stage

at the opening of doors...

 

While all this time the computers have awaited their turn

only occasionally putting in a word of agreement

only speaking when spoken to.

 

Val Doyle

published in Connections, 2005

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A Pause in Time

 

Even now, the sense of that time remains,

sharper than the pictures

coffined in dark album leaves,

or on these walls,

locked behind cold glass.

 

Even now, a phrase, a note of music,

conjures up a breath of laughter,

a touch, a greeting hand.

Any unplanned minute can push ajar the door,

recreate the world of then when everything was possible.

 

Even now, thoughts gathered

in rooms young with hope and argument

still linger on, specks of truth

gleaming through the weary patina

of use and habitude.

 

Such moments cannot be mine alone.

Surely across time and continents,

others once familiar as bread

must also pause, and for a heartbeat

stand, arrested in their journey...

 

Val Doyle

published in Equinox, 2003

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Hothouse

 

Often the light on those slanting windows

was the first thing we saw

as we came grinding up the hill

in that old Austin Seven

 

Those scrambled streaks of red and yellow sunset

was your signal to check the greenhouse,

bundling from the car,

making sure the heating was OK

and that fool boy hadn't left the door ajar again.

 

You had no eye for roses, sweet peas, or scarlet salvas

those splodges of colour in mother's flower beds.

Food was the thing.  Seeds under glass to plant out,

bring on, and sell, the season's marrows, spuds, tomatoes.

 

Such industry, such backbreaking endless toil,

plus forty hours a week down at the foundry.

 

No wonder you died young,

not noticing the beauty of the day.

 

Val Doyle

published in Equinox, 2007

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