2020 - Spring

Poems by Marie McMullin

Images: © Marie McMullin

Author: Marie McMullin



Arms Open

Once unbound

                        your hair cascaded down your back

just as wild but lighter than the laughter


hard as hail

as the storm brew in your eyes.

                                                   Once I tried

to anchor your grief

hand held out

in vain

wisps of hair trailed your escape.


Still at the table

me here

you there

wounds glimpsed through vapours

of brewing tea made me believe

my hand

by inch

 by inch

would grasp solid flesh

that took flight

light breeze

and poured us more tea

me here

you there.


Walking side by side,

should I believe the joy lighting

your eyes, promising,

or the gap from your hand to mine


the stuff of dreams?


So many years, love, standing apart.

One step is enough

to walk into arms held open

so long bereft and aching

to reach round your neck and swear

I’ve got you.

I’ve got you.



The birdhouse has two new lodgers;
This year the happy pair are blue tits.
They’ve already started on home improvements:
Twigs, moss and blades of grass,
And even a tuft of dog fur the breeze
Carried off when I gave him a brush.
Madam settles out of sight,
Mister flutters anxiously about.
And then the heavy lifting begins:
Open mouths crowding the door,
Relentless hungry cries spurring on
Parents to endure fourteen-hour shifts
And keep the worms and insects coming.
Such loud chirping lacks discretion –
The magpie that massacred last year’s brood
Lurks about again, its shadow
Stretching over the many bodies
Of the neighbourhood’s cats, cut-throats languishing
Below the nest. One well-aimed stone
Makes them scatter; they’ll be back.
This doesn’t lessen the incessant comings
And goings of these two tiny birds,
Ceaselessly working towards a future
That isn’t promised; perhaps that’s hope.


From the window I see the moon
Peering through a veil of clouds.
I stare, and say hello, my sister
In solitude across the many miles.
Silent, but there, and kind enough
To let me believe she sends back
The gazes of others far away
Looking up and adoring her face.

The night sky is studded with stars.
Lyra, Aquilla, Andromeda –
Stories riddle the ether.
Light years away and out of sight,
Galaxies come to life and die,
And still blaze on in the dark
Writing off both time and space.
It is enough to make you believe in fate.

Sibylline stars, chartering courses
With incandescent ciphers.
Who else learns the universe
Expands, retracts,
Is born and held in a name?
Stepping up to Atlas,
I push the skies off his shoulders.

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