Two poems by Penelope Shuttle

Long Man

The Long Man
holds open house
at Wilmington,

the Downs
are his backyard,
his walking poles

know their way home,
they know where
the best blackberries grow –

not far from Heaven Farm,
not far from The Lavender Line,
the shadow village of Ripe,

he won’t share them with me,
though the August air
is tight-packed with their reek,

because he can’t remember
being seven years old

or where his twin was born…
but the Downs remember,

whispering him each day,
how tall you’ve grown,
tall and long,
you Man of Wilmington –

I wish he’d lean down
and kiss me,
one spendthrift kiss

from my Long Green Man,
that’s all I wish,
why won’t he?

Back from city and mountain,
journey rests
his hot heavy head in my lap,

miles of sleep,
forests he’s fallen through,
head wrecked with cafes and ships,
gives me no respite,

rolls me uphill like a stone,
knows how to use me,
journey of too many turnings

laid in my lap,
but not, you notice,
at my feet,

rolling me along from hip to hip,
green with envy,
wise beyond his years,

braced eyes watching me,
a train falls from journey’s eye,
hot steamy tear,

black and blue journey
pitching his ripe old walnut head
back and forth in my lap.
Penelope Shuttle has lived in Cornwall since 1970. She is the widow of poet Peter Redgrove, who taught for many years at Falmouth College of Art. He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1996. Shuttle is current Chair of the Falmouth Poetry Group, founded by Redgrove in 1972. Peter Redgrove’s biography, A Lucid Dreamer; The Life of a Poet, by Neil Roberts, appeared in January 2012, from Cape, alongside Redgrove’s Collected Poems. Shuttle’s 2006 collection, Redgrove’s Wife, (Bloodaxe Books) was short-listed for the Forward Prize for Best Single Collection, and for the T S Eliot Award. She received a Cholmondeley Award in 2007. Sandgrain and Hourglass, appeared from Bloodaxe Books in October 2010, and was a Recommendation of The Poetry Book Society. Unsent: New and Selected Poems appeared in October 2012, Bloodaxe Books.