Stephen Leake


I gave you the forest,
Full-leaved, carefully escaping itself;
Its carved secrets ringing in
The shrinking mouth of a lost bird.

You took it, direct as a prayer
The way a child receives an alien
Fruit, or discerning fly
Addresses a casual wound.

And we settled. Inseparable
Yet estranged in our sharp-shaped thoughts,
Dropping from the steps to
The muted absence of what lay ahead.

It was a place borrowed
Where we borrowed ourselves,
Warped in time’s rumours.
With vines. Flint.

And you smiled across the
Interlude to a vanishing point:
A hint of verge where the white stone lay–

Its dreams still learning;
Its lyrics, grey.

Stephen Leake is author of two poetry collections. He is a member of the Poetry Society (Covent Garden), and has had work published in the Times Education Supplement, The Rialto, and Agenda. He has twice been awarded an Ottakar’s /Faber Prize for his poetry. His third collection is currently in preparation (Seren Books). He works as a Music teacher in Norfolk UK.  The poem above was written for his mother back in 2005 after visiting a remote forest/village in the South Downs.