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Christmas in Andalucía

I’m in the bath when you pop up,
between turkey and pudding,
for a drink with me: you with your g&t,
me with my vodka and coke.
It is dark in Surrey, while here
a late sun gleams in the olive groves.
Christmas in Andalucía:
the search for sunshine, the good life,
in a plush hotel - the mini-bar
stuffed with cheese, chorizo and olives,
a bottle of cava on ice. I have the laptop
on a stool at the side of the bath,
and you have yours at the end of your bed.
You look delicious in your new black bra,
far away in that cold stone house.
Beyond the dark window England
is covered in frost and moonlight.
Soon they’re calling you down for pudding,
cheese, and a good sweet wine, for games
around the fire. I ask you to take off your bra
before you go. I am full of loss and longing.
You slip the straps from your shoulders
and let it fall. The miles are meaningless.
You try to escape but can’t; the heart
is hewn from elm and oak and mistletoe.


(Thanks to the Poetry Review for publishing this.)


The Very Small Baseline Group
Convenes at the Cat and Fiddle

A groaning table of empties makes up
our Very Small Array; a barley-scented
interferometer. Here we can study the cosmos
and drink. We tune in to the microwave sky:
to the froth at the edge of the universe.
We sup in the dusk, everything glows
with its own light, the hedgerows, lawn,
the mass of atoms spinning inside the glass
where the Milky Way sings in a half inch of Guinness;
a song of the distant past when the world
was a moment old. We gather it all in our mugs,
in a pub garden on the edge of the moors
looking down on Jodrell Bank – grand-daddy
of the red-light district, cocking its huge lug
to the whiplash of cosmic strings, to the mayhem
beyond our patch. The bats are in on it,
hunting in ultrasound, catching moths in their fangs,
while frogs bark in the meadows, one to the other,
a vast unfathomable love-song. I finish my pint
and add my glass to the phalanx: the more we drink
the clearer we see, as any old soak will tell you.
I tip back my head to look at the Pleiades
and tumble, arse over tit, into the damp grass.
I lie in my cups under the bling of the northern sky.
I can hear it call, I can see it clearly now,
it’s all and nothing, the whole sky blazing.


(First published: Dark Matter. Poems of Space.
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 2010.)