With May came the sun
a gentle collision of a warm front
moving north, stooping light
filtered through a vase
banishing that most
unforgiving of springs.
Confined to my bed for a time
my world was a wallpaper pattern
appearing to me in my delirium
like an army of identical prints
of old Mother Shipton in grotesque profile
fanning the flames of a nightmare
populated by spacecraft and murdered presidents.
Mid morning, a visitor, unheralded
alighted at my open window
sunlit lustre on cerulean
hooded in black, caped in white
rakish bandit, avid-eyed swindler
with head atilt, I swear he smiled
as, crafty pickpocket, he stole my sickness.
Through my ebbing fever
I croaked the traditional greeting
to guard against ill luck.
‘Good morning Mr Magpie
how is your wife today?’
Gazing, mute, sly, angled smile
he did not croak back.
Imagining him slighted
a thief in the night
I raided my mother’s hoard
of gold, diamond, ruby, amethyst
fair recompense for a kindness rendered
and arrayed the jewels carefully
on the windowsill
a sparkling trinket tribute.
Later my grandmother came to stay
declared, ‘He’s wasting away,’
and fed me for a month
on sirloin steak and sips
of black, treacly stout.