Sandy Spencer

Directions after Billy Collins

You know the railway line at the back of the house
the one on the embankment high above the garden
the one where from the sitting room window
you felt that the train was coming into the room?
And you know that you can cross the line
walk down the steps to the footpath
which goes along the side of the house
and come to the front door
and ring the bell?
Well, I will let you in and take you to the garden.

The best time is an early summer’s evening.
The garden is on the east side of the house
but the roof is low enough for sunset
to spill across the lawn
to catch the roses on the far side
where Dublin Bay
is a rich dark red velvet
that you’d want to touch and wear.

But it is hard to speak of these things
of the trees at dusk, their leaves 
turned to silver by the breeze
of the unseen high blackbird 
singing his goodnight aria
of Bantry Bay
rambling pink against the dark green nettles
on the other side of the fence
of the air surprised by the honeysuckle
of where you must stand on the terrace
and breathe in these moments.

Still, let me know before you set out
before you turn off the road into the village
and when you ring my bell
I will be waiting with a glass of wine
on the table on the terrace in the garden
waiting to share these moments.

Yesterday I didn’t go to the beach

but today I want to see
the sun rise
			    and say goodbye
		to the full moon.

The high cliff’s shadow
stretches out into the sea
	 across the steep shingle bank
		pockmarked by a thousand footfalls

where a red lifebelt planted on top
commands against the pale sky
	in an emergency
		you must call the coastguard;

the only sound 
the retreating foam 
	arguing with the next wave
		in hiss and purr;

soon the sea is dotted
with coloured caps
			and splashings
				of dawn bathers;

further out two tall pylons 
one red one green
	insist on the way
		into the harbour;

a lone detectorist appears
sweeping in swaying lines
	from the water’s edge
		to the shingle bank;

a little dog watches me watch
		the cliff’s shadow
while behind us in the harbour

a patient diesel engine beats the time
as fishermen prepare to go sea
	and over the fields
		gulls call up the day.

If I’d told you

Last night I went back to where it began.
You were still staring at me
with your wide-open blind eyes
when you told me
forcing me to share your pain

when you were cast adrift
from the certainty you loved
and how you’d screamed silently
and no one knew
and no help came

and you were afraid
to ask to know
and you’d lashed out angrily
and you were there for twenty years
hating him and it had turned you sour.

If I’d told you at that time
when I found the letter
I would have told you
what it was and 
what it wasn’t.

Last night I went back
to where it began
regretting it
was too 

Sandy is an ‘infant poet’ still in her nappies After a career in IT and then as a portrait photographer, she is learning the trade and writes about whatever passes before her eyes, of life, love, landscape and death. 

Flights, Issue Three, December 2021