for Gail McConnell



How much of what we scribble down survives –

Sappho’s miraculous bits and pieces,

Dialect words for kitchen utensils,

See-through dresses, moonbeams – somebody

At a busy street corner advising

Where to shop for chickpeas and mascara.



Let blank spaces between parentheses

Be annotated thus by me and you

Who loiter in the margin, Sapphic souls –

Silence that has lasted a thousand years

Is poetry of a kind, Gail, poetry

Like a brain-child impatient to be born.



O suburban parthenogenesis,

I eavesdrop on a holy family –

Sappho would have fallen for Beth and you –

Two mothers, two wives, a baby boy’s

Thumb-sucking bliss, glistening eyelids,

Hazel-nuts safe beneath a Lesbos sky.