Milner Place

I asked him
where he came from.
He said:
I come from my mother’s waters,
from my father’s well,
come grimed with brick dust,
stained by my brother’s blood,
scorned by accountants,
washed in sweat.
Horses see the dust of my passing,
snort their impatience.
Crows watch my shadow,
are familiar,
worms sense my steps
and are expectant.
My inheritance is clay
and offal from sumptuous kitchens.
I’m a conjuror of fishes.
My nostrils know the language
of faithless streets,
effluvium of mines.
I pass from farm to forge,
from mill to ship
and each one steals
the droplets of my sweat,
my hours, my loves
and no one calls
my name.
I asked him
where he lived
but he was lost in the crowd.

The turning of an Archimedes screw
sucks water from its heaving up to where
water drifts waiting in a somber cloud,
waiting to fall as water in a drift of rain,
like leaves that drop in autumn to the soil
to rot among the roots that ravish them,
to spread a canopy that sucks the sun
until the turning of the globe calls in
the nights that harbor frost, an alchemy
transmuting green to gold before the white
of snow lays on its eider down and crows,
their darkness like the mouth of death,
like water deep below the eye of sun, like
a black hole and its relentless screw, wait
for the nights to shrink and leaves to spring
and dress the branches where to build a nest,
their shadows on the winter wasted fields
transient as wakes of old and desperate ships.



Milner is from Huddersfield, England.  He’s the author of Caminante, The City of Flowers, Piltdown Man and Batwoman, In A Rare Time of Rain and other books.