Tonight we go through to the small back room
hung with wrestling posters, plastic vegetables
and salami. It’s cosy here, warm at least,
away from the street. Nearer the kitchen,
source of heat, food and argument;
nearer the toilets. Catch a lime-scented
disinfectant that sanctifies the smell of drains.
Up there on a ceiling from the surface of the moon,
the humming fluorescent tubes bounce a signal
off the patterned floor, scrubbed bald,
and glare back at us from off the wiped
wood-effect formica tables.
The vinyl menu covers are wearing down
into something opaque, like melted onyx.
We’re ready to order.
We like it here, our little place. We’re regulars.
(published in the pamphlet Work & Food, Mulfran Press, 2011 and due to appear in the collection A Season in Eden, Gatehouse, 2016)
It put you through the boundaries of endurance:
no huskies, no whisky, no sex, and a hole in your sock.
Further into the forest, the way became clearer
and sun shone through, though you couldn’t see the sky.
It was warmer, the wind was broken by trees.
There might be answers, if you could tell what to ask.
Woven into the tree roots, the cross purposes
of everything, the earth and water to push and suck.
Someone had been here before. They didn’t own it, either,
but you thanked them. A debt to pay, a blessing to seek.
New understandings of nature: truths as old
as the hills you were roaming. A walk for its own sake.
Versions of what you’d report to them afterwards.
Your joy on reaching the creek. The bones in your sack.
Peter Daniels has won poetry competitions including the Arvon, Ledbury and TLS, and published a number of pamphlets. His collection Counting Eggs appeared from Mulfran Press in 2012, and Gatehouse will publish a new collection in 2016. His translations of Vladislav Khodasevich from Russian (Angel Classics, 2013), have been shortlisted for the Rossica, Oxford-Weidenfeld and Read Russia prizes.