Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

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.