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Into The Ashes, Littlewood Press
This was a poem-sequence on the theme of nuclear war and its aftermath; the book was illustrated by the artist Janet Samson in woodcuts.

Stones

The stone was the death-mask of life;
The stone was squeezing its own heart
To stillness.
It lay among lime-green stems,
It slept under water,
For all the millennia is did not even blink.
The stone breathed silence.

But now there was a melting spark
In its quartz circuitry,
A fear growing like shadows
On an x-ray plate,
A cancerous dread that sleep would end
And life would begin to quarry it
With decisions.

The mushroom cloud was a long way off
But the novelty erupted light;
It flooded the stone integument,
It gasped in the stone lungs,It broke into ventricles and bled out again.

The fish were swept away,
The green stems blackened
And were swept away;
It rained and the stone drank debris
Of the river’s thirst:
Mud, leaves, smashed bark and the bodies
That swelled without thirst.

Still the stone held its breath,
Turned its gaze inward until
Pressure simmered like acid
Behind its retinas.

And the one thought took place,
Second by second,
Like an artery snaking over bone
And pulsing there:

If only life would retreat
And leave him his silence!

 

Into the Ashes
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