The Secret Keeper’s weekly writing prompt provides five words to incorporate in a poem. Sometimes, I don’t get on with the words at all, and it takes a lot of work to fit them all in. Sometimes they just jump into line of their own accord. This week was one of those times. The words are



Brave are those, or foolhardy,

Who let the pure ones lead them in the dance.

For the pure have no hearts,

Their souls are cloud wisps,

And their eyes of lake water

Are cold and deep enough to drown in.

I will dance with the wilderness,

Fire-furred and velvet-padded,

Where the river tends its own banks and the sea its shore,

Sing larksong with temerity and abandon,

Soar on wings strong as the bones of the mountain,

Take the hands scented with rose and the yellow gorse,

And never let them go.


Dancing stars

A quartet of short poems



Let’s dance to the song

the stars are singing,

while the radio murmurs in blue and red,

swaying with eternal lights.


I saw you on the outskirts of time,

Palely loitering among the lilies.

I called your name but you were gone

Leaving a bright trail of stardust

The echo of your passing.


Still singing in the shadows,

night becomes day,

a starburst of light.


Beneath the roses I shall wait,

Until the petals fall and the last sun sets.

I will catch the tail of a passing star,

And join you in the firmament.

Microfiction: The spring dance part II


The gnarly roots gave way to bouncy loam, pungent with fallen leaves and the busy business of decomposition. The child skipped over a branch where mushrooms clung, over a patch of spongy moss full of tiny snap-jawed plants.

This is yours, said the rose.

If you want it, said a voice from a hazel thicket.

What would I do with all this? The child asked in puzzlement.

Why, love it, of course! The voices laughed.

The girl laughed too and danced around a clump of kingcups. Wagtails and Great Tits sang their refrains back and forth until she had them by heart. Water rippled close by and the breeze rattled the poplar leaves like castanets. Bees hummed and blackbirds sang deep and fruity. The hazel thicket moved, and a blue black fox sniffed the air.

Dance me a story, he said, and I’ll sing you a tapestry.

So the girl danced the story of her home and the walk to school and the pavements with the cracks, the smell of hot tarmac, the cars sweating in the heat. Her dance faltered and the fox pricked his ears. He tugged at his fur where a flea was biting. The girl stopped and bit her lip. When she began again, she danced the wall of smooth shiny stone, the trees and the curly roots, the buttercups in the long grass. The fox grinned.

That was pretty. Now, watch.

And he barked the falling leaves, the russet and the golden, the wind through bare branches and the wind through summer leaves. The birds picked up the threads and wove their snippets of nestlings and bright blue eggs. The wind blew a blast of winter and scurrying snowflakes. The girl watched and saw the forest in all its seasons and colours.

Keep it safe, said the fox, and led her deeper among the singing trees.

Microfiction: The spring dance

Painting ©Helma Petrick


She knew this was the right place, because of the wolf face smiling at her from high among the smooth stones.

Here, it whispered.

I know, she replied eagerly.

We’re waiting for you, said the rose nodding gently among the branches of the big tree.

She hesitated and looked back along the path towards the road that wound about until it reached another road and the house where she lived. But the path had gone. The cart ruts filled with pale sandy soil and separated by tall wavy grass were no longer there. She crouched down and parted the tall yellow flowers, felt the ground until she found the indentation made by a metal-rimmed wheel long ago. She picked a flower and smiled at its yellowness. The path was still there if you knew where to look. And she did.

Come, the wolf said. Come and dance.

Dance, said the rose, and a wave of perfume broke over her face.

Can I go home, after? She asked.

If you want to, said the wolf.

Only if you want to, said the rose and the spreading tree.

Only if you want to, repeated all the trees in the great forest beyond the wall.

Then I’ll come, said the little girl.

The wolf howled with delight, and the wolves and foxes of the forest picked up his song. The spreading tree leant gracefully to one side, and the wall opened to let the child pass. She skipped through the narrow, root-curly gap and joined in the spring dance that only ever ends if you want it to.



I wore red
though you said I shouldn’t
or because you said
I don’t remember now
but I wore red and I danced
though you said I couldn’t
or shouldn’t
I forget
so I wore red and I danced and you watched
with your best black look
and while you watched I danced in my red dress into a pair of arms
that wanted
or wished
or desired
or all three
to dance
with me.

Dancing leaves


In the square

a smiling girl bends and sways

pirhouettes for the crowd

her eyes half-closed

to better hear the gasps of admiration.

Jackdaw cocks a jet-bright eye

then leaps

a burlesque tumble of sleek black wings

to dance amid the golden rain

tossed from the ragged skirts of autumn trees.

The crowd applauds

the girl beams

jackdaw preens a glossy plume

while the fiery dance of the trees goes on

for as long as there are trees with leaves to cast

more precious than pearls before swine.