Daniel Fraser




To Essex

Worn stones lean toward the train, where
blue lichens graze on lost nouns, passengers
stuck still waiting for a service.
In Leyton, four men carry one
bouquet, dark lilies and chrysanthemums,
extras from Brueghel’s Triumph, their
smiles fluted with bleakness and
paper laughter, canned sounds trying hard
to bear the weight of life.
Above broods a distempered sky: ash,
ashen—the all-too-easy indolence
of grey, the readiness to hand,
metallic cloughs of cloud,
pig iron poorly oxidised with rain.

Newbury hauls its concrete ankh, black turf
and wire fences pattern low mist,
Father-son football, homely as witch-hazel,
drubs along the weekend pitch,
sleet-buckled limbs tussle for warmth
while the bystanders inculcate a chant,
their coven of waterproofs whipped
by a tangy breeze. The last of autumn
ghosts the birches, frail gold that tells
of nothing but fall. The rest: brown,
red-brown, dull mulch and sparse woods
trunk-wound with sheepish ivy, glum
fairy lights sporting arrowed filament.

Foot-by-foot I trudge the sallow marsh.
A last sun wilts its way through formless,
temporary pools. Your voice carries,
vowels flattened by the plain,
I worm you out across the saltings,
coarse with mud and the turgid dunes
of silt, fat as an intake of breath.
A stranded lightship yawns for tide
and oh how birded the sky—
the iron, indolent,  rain-gestured grey,
wings peeling, sketching dark migrations
above the cross beams and rigging.
Our mouths leave no tongue left wanting
as we curl back through the meadow,
exhausted, slack and sore with dusk,
while all around the vanished sea
speaks once again of flood.




Daniel Fraser is a writer from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. His poetry and prose have featured in the LA Review of BooksGorse, the RumpusLitro, and Burning House Press among others. Find him on Twitter @oubliette_mag.

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