Two poems by Ion Corcos


    A Magpie on a Downpipe


I sweep white blossoms from the path, hard bristles
unbending on each stroke; it is not till months later,
when the owner of the house returns, that I learn
the tree overhanging the fence is an apple tree.

We sit outside in the sun, get to know one another,
both wary of a stray cat, the bare streets; we keep sewn.
I pull the door shut to the shed, turn the key,
snap the padlock on. The sky is afloat.

I listen to her stories, about her childhood bicycle,
how her mother dragged her home;
then the time comes when she says, It’s those Asians in Hyde,
or, Another plane from Pakistan.

A smudge on the lens of my glasses, I watch
bees carry sacks of pollen, flower to flower.
I cannot open my mouth, or insist on torn petals,
the evening light fading over roofs.

She sits in her stifling conservatory, watches news;
some countries are starting to reopen their borders.
At dinner, we eat at a small table, spill salt on placemats;
she asks when I think I’ll be leaving.

The blossoms fade in stubbled rain, sodden and unresistant,
no shutting eyes.
I wash dishes, then go upstairs to my bedroom;
I do not let myself imagine not being here.
No date has been set.

She cannot face a solitary magpie, calls me
in the night to confirm if it is a bird on a downpipe.
It is not enough to unentangle the familiar;
soon, all that is left is moss and worn snail shells.

Still, the strawberries grow ripe. I sweep the path,
water the garden, find a way to be with her.
I live carefully, stay in my room;
there is enough through the wind-etched window.


    The Thought of Snow


after Philip Larkin’s 'High Windows'


When I see a young couple
and he’s pushing a pram
while she’s on the phone, arms gesticulating
at him as he lights a cigarette,
I know this is not what they had in mind,
fucking one drunken night.
Not everyone dreams of this.

Hey, baby, hey you, oh yeah –
that’s what they wanted most of all.
Then it all goes,
an explosion in a busy marketplace
on a Saturday morning,
and all the young slide down the hill,

endlessly. I wonder if anyone looked at me
thirty years ago, and thought,
that’s the life, on another protest march
against nuclear war,
in a pub later drinking beer,
no God,
playing ‘Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards’ on the jukebox,

and why not have another beer –
silly idiot.
The priest has gone,
and so have all the bloody birds;
what a marvellous life you have –
you’re on the right side
of bombs and books. And immediately,

rather than words, comes the thought of snow,
white flakes on pine trees,
stones in a shallow river,
how night will reap the flurry for itself,
and beyond it, the silence
of mountains, and of parting.


Ion Corcos

About Ion Corcos

Ion Corcos has been published in The High Window, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite, The Cardiff Review, and other journals. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling with his partner, Lisa. He is the author of 'A Spoon of Honey' (Flutter Press, 2018).