Cover page.



  • The Earliest Map
  • Shards
  • Herodotus in Egypt Remembers Delos
  • Betrayal
  • Exorcism
    1. (i) Window Seat
    2. (ii) Childhood is feudal
    3. (iii) Hibernation
    4. (iv) Home Ground
    5. (v) Grandchild
  • Small Painting
  • The Tarot-reader’s Daughter
  • Explaining the North Yorkshire Afghan Hounds Rescue Association
  • Byzantium Remembers Waiting
  • Siege
  • Lowlights
  • Unhoused
  • Graffiti on Cactus and Cloud
  • After A-Level


  • Stepson
  • Watercourse
  • Weekend Child
  • The Coffee–Icing Cow
  • Scapegoats
  • Amniocentesis
  • Foreigners
  • Darwin's Great Great Great Grand-Daughter Smiles
  • A Postcard to St Wite
  • Deus Absconditus
  • Playground
  • Reading Snow White to my Daughter in Greek, Thinking of the Step-Daugher
  • I Never See
  • Visitors
  • Leper Island
  • South Wind
  • Orgeat
  • Yew Berries


  • Builders
  • Priest's Child
  • Incubus
    1. (i) Dionysus
    2. (ii) Transvesta
    3. (iii) Recidivist
    4. (iv) Holidays
    5. (v) Pentheus
    6. (vi) Breakthrough
  • Jazz Class
  • Royal Road
  • What Does "Is" Mean?
  • In the Distance

The Earliest Map

Two hundred dry miles north of Babylon
They found the earliest map.
A delta, and one river through it,
four or five thousand
years ago inscribed
on a small clay leaf.

This neat obedient man
Sitting beside me on the hot night train
To Larisa, traces Greek football pools
on yellow paper. What else is there?
We transfer space evasively,
hide in the yellow spice of the acacia,

the routes by which we came
untraceable, except the stigmata
of educator, doctor, rail time-table.
We live Babylonian hours, minutes, space.
Their “three hundred and sixty”
Enfolds us. Their river

veins through to our end:
this shanty littoral
of a wishful and forgetting mind
penned on a dry clay leaf.


Walled princess of the knot garden
glinting with fat red fruit
dependent from amethyst-black shining plait
you approach without modesty, native
from a vulnerable heartland
spiralled round wayward seed
hooks of pepper-grain on white of soft-boiled egg.
I lived my physiology unthinkingly till now.

Your small lungs breathe inner liquid
just as the Greeks supposed we do.
You make your own antiquity in me.
Fireflies gather in my stem.
Thoughts of a burning spine,
starfall-silver gooseflesh in a winter labour ward
a tambourine for winds of pain to play on.
I know your chemistry at least.

That needle, a precision humming-bird
sipped your round world. The doctor’s
green apprentice interleaved your chromosomes
in glass. With an animal’s determined privacy
you guard your ticking dark. Floating,
you prepare to wring my heart. One light-bulb
builds the bedroom round us.
How will you change our life?

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