Snow falling on the ocean


See how from out of the folded arms of
the cloud you have descended through,
ushering the puzzled cows from the
sodden slopes down towards to their byre,
it comes spilling, a salt-shake of crystals,
into the disappearing belt of visible air.


After a precious half-minute of freefall,
each one melts on contact with the hurried
skin of the waves, back into the water,
or glazes onto the nail-sharp crust of
mussels and limpets that roughen the
slick rocks bookending the bay.


From the shutterless window, a lamp
forces colour through the uncertainty.
You feel her small fingers, cold with their
bloodlessness, squeeze into your own,
wish for an easier life than the one
handed down with your father’s name.


© Robert Ford


Recovery position


Each new day sits astride me,
chest-high, like a ship or a crane,
a building – something too vast
to be imagined convincingly, to be
taken by the hand. It will not be
shrugged off or moved away.


Time crystallises. Hour by hour,
people leave and hooded birds gather,
neither making meaningful eye contact.
I would answer your calls, but
the phone becomes a grenade in
my fingers. Only as dusk curtains


the sky and the ocean stills can I
breathe. The sound of every
individual car passing dissembles
into whispers, into identifiable voices.
Survival – in tiny pieces, at least
– becomes slowly imaginable again.


© Robert Ford