On days when the sun shines we stop work,
go into our garden with books, coffee, wine, fruit;
it will not shine for long, and we must make the most of it.
The garden is violet and misty blue,
full of ferns and skiophilic flowers,
but I remember it as it once was
in summer, blazing with hot vermilion,
bronze, gold, chrome yellow, as the fields were
yellow with dandelion, ragwort, rape.
More people are coming now,
more of them every day, swarming north
with their cracked skin, flayed faces, dust-filled eyes.
They think us a haven. Sometimes we almost laugh. Among those
assigned to us, the wizened children, desert-dried, touch the fruits
we can still grow – raspberries, redcurrants,
dark acid cherries espaliered against a wall –
as though they were jewels. And they laugh at us
when we seek the sunlight, mothlike. They have sunned themselves
enough. As the south shrinks and broils, a terrible beach,
the north is moss-dripping pines, haar reaching inland
for miles. Grey flannel furs the coasts
above the drowned cities, streels far out to sea.
Cloud never leaves the heights, its exhalations
slithering down to overpower the valleys.
We cry for light. Our eyes grow dull like those of fish
caught yesterday, unsold upon a market slab
in some still inhabited seaside town.
In the mornings now, I wake
to despair like a dark moist shawl around my head,
a sticky caul. I know it will never lift.