Gerry Stewart: 3 Poems

I GIVE HIM THE HILL

Air cutting into skin,
crackle of snowslip
as the earth disappears
long enough for the wind
to steal our breaths.

He jumps free,
racing his own dreams
to the slope’s end.
The sledge an after-thought
for me to carry.

He chews on snow,
stinging his cheeks burnt-red.
Feet unsteady
on the uneven piles,
he climbs back up
on his hands and knees,
gloves flapping loose.
The long slog up
the unconquerable mountain,
tears ice his lashes.

At the top, without a thought
for me or the sledge
he rolls and slides down,
coating himself with snow.

His laughter shatters the bright air.
The hill is his alone.

ANNAN ITSENI SAARILLE
Finnish for ‘I Give Myself to the Islands’

Gathering her island children
into her elbow crook,
the mainland mother cradles them
close with tarmac and steel
until they are petulant
enough to tug from her grip.

Forest remnants chase my thoughts
across their wrinkled margins
from the slate-blue sea
over granite scars
to the city’s clean facade.

On darker days,
footprints unfurl over the ice,
marking journeys
that ignore warnings.
Left like pencilled notes in library pages
they own the horizon
I reluctantly broach.

Sand elides to fen,
birch graces pine.
Their route certainty trudges in solid mute comfort
while it skitters
fine gravel beneath my tyres.

THE STAR BOOK

Neck crinked,
my last chance to catch
the sting and spark
of this year’s Perseids,
summer nearly wrung dry.

Cassiopeia shimmies
a few degrees along
the bowl of night,
luring me back decades.
My little brother and I
perched on cars
in Iowa cornfields,
tracing pictures in the sky.

Laid before us the only bible
we put any faith in,
my grandfather’s faded
blue and gold hardback
of The Stars by H A Rey.
Seasonal concentric star maps
we tilted and twisted
to match what we saw,
the constellations named
and drawn in a storybook hand.

My mother followed up
with Bullfinch’s Mythology,
stitching the stories
of Pegasus, Ariadne’s crown
and Andromeda lashed to the rock
into the science.

THE STAR BOOK/2

Orion was always my favourite,
though his tale
no more heroic or tragic.
He follows me,
clearly sketched in the sky,
his bow ready. My talisman
wherever I stood below him.

I don’t seek him out tonight,
my own copy of the charts,
a new glossy edition,
stashed in a loft in Glasgow.

Two fleeting meteors
are enough
before I settle in.

Gerry Stewart is a poet, creative writing tutor and editor based in Finland. Her poetry collection Post-Holiday Blues was published by Flambard Press, UK. Her writing blog can be found at http:/thistlewren.blogspot.fi/.

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