Nice Words – Sheila Nichols


Northern stars are distant;
cut-outs in the dark curtain of night
framing chilly stabs of light
beside a peephole moon.
Sometimes the curtain flickers,
colours shiver across the sky
aurora borealis flashes by.

Under the Southern cross
stars brush the treetops,
luminous markers, chandelier drops
and the moon’s a yellow gourd
above dancing fireflies.

Swamped by this lush tropical froth
I long for the spare ascetic North.

Mothers and Daughters

A hover fly comes inside
lured by the scent in the room;
carnations my daughter brought
unfurl to creamy pink, each hothouse bloom
filling the air with perfumed spice.

“Flowers for a house with a garden?
Daft,” my mother says, “a waste of money.”
But the scent recalls the visit,
a memory fixed in cloves, a hint of honey,
a memory laid down,
vintage wine for winter tasting.

Time to open the windows;
that hover fly wants out.