The Walker in the dark
It's half a night, and Nanna's got a sudden dread
that wakes the house. My husband
would have got his gun another year,
but now he says to shut her up, or he'lL settle her.
Little June has brought some water in a cup,
and Lilah's got the baby, so I soothe her shoulders,
“Hush la, mum, there's nothing in the shadow,
hush la. Father's in his howe.”
But all the while, I hear it. Wind is walking,
rocking steps and cries, around the yard.
There's creaking at the window frames.
The precious glass is fighting there to keep it out.
'Hush, la,' and lullabies, and children singing to themselves,
are all the spells against the clammy rattle
on the door, and Lilah lights the stove,
mixes water with the oats and just a nib of salt.
Nanna knows too well the walker in the dark. I
take the bowl and place it, children huddled,
on the spitting step, and close the door,
hold them as she held me years before.
They sleep to skip the worst. All is quiet
in the row. Voices, yes. Watch the minutes.
Nanna sees the empty bowl at first light.
Her smiling tooth is easy now.
is a London-born, Oxford-based, poet and performer, with two books published. Folklore, mythology and drama are staples of his writing. Through lockdown, he live-streamed poems almost daily, and these can be found now on youtube.