Geoffrey Heptonstall

Geoffrey Heptonstall

Geoffrey Heptonstall is the author of Heaven’s Invention, a novel [Black Wolf 2017] The Rites of Paradise, a full poetry collection, was published to critical acclaim in 2020. Sappho’s Moon appeared in 2021. Both are published by Cyberwit at Allahabad University. He wrote regularly for The London Magazine 2007-2018. He currently writes for La Piccioletta Barca in Cambridge where he resides.


She stands by the window,
aware of herself in the evening air.
Views from her high vantage
always impress at first glance,
and even now enrich her.
Sunset winds sweep the valley floor,
rippling the river patterns,
worrying the trees in the piazza.
She will wear silk tonight,
an occasion for umbrellas,
and a hurrying from taxis.

Revellers grow weary of themselves,
exhausted by excess.
Pleasure palls in wild seasons.
But they are not where she is now,
screened behind colonnades,
drinking deeply an admirer’s wine
into the single chime of morning.

There will be another day
to remember her elegance.
Memory is of might-have-beens.
Perhaps for her a finer thought.
Sometimes, like a Roman night,
the air is surprised by storms.


Sand drifts in the high wind
as thought falls from the tree
before the fruit can ripen.
At dusk the air is stilled.
A celestial sound settles
on those perfect harmonies.
Or so it seems to sleepers
woken by the call to remember
a single-stringed instrument
making intricate music
as if to move the crane birds
floating through the clouds.
A song may find its way down
on one note as long as night
fading into a cool, dry dawn.
This way the day begins well.


Consider the shape of reason
encircling the world.
A conclusion follows
the line of argument
when everything begins
making sense of itself.

The colonnades at evening are cool, shaded all day from the sun. The tables are set for dinner as waiters in classic black and white surround us. Live Jazz begins, resonating in the arcade that leads to the street out there. Galileo once worked close by. This square he will have known.

Walking in the shade at about this hour he imagines the unseen side of the moon, gazing into the sky in time to see her full, generous figure. Her face is a perpetual enigma, appearing variously on the walls of churches, palaces and museums.

The room where the inquisitor sits is bare. Galileo will make patterns of the cracks and plaster blemishes of the white walls. The shape, he notes, is not quite circular. It is not perfect. Something was amiss in the making of this from its ideal plan. But geometry, he remembers, has no feeling. And yet…

The plough in the furrow
has the contours of motion.
made to a purpose
designed by necessity
to move the world
as the earth turns.


All is to a purpose clear
when slowly she rises
as if she were the sun
lighting the cold, clean air
that sees the death of pestilence
facing a fearful world.

Beauty to a candle flies
not knowing how danger lies,
to go down again suddenly
in a slip of the tongue.
Voices below echo the oracular
sharp as a serpent’s sting.

Fine sounds escape the fires
when attentive ears take care
of an unearthly music.
From the lyre an arrow flies,
a shooting star that falls
as she fades into herself again.


The mariner in him is awake.
There is a moon
cradling his memory of the other island.
His thoughts are flying
silently while she sleeps.
The Western sky is velvet –
He thinks of lichened stones.

At home lamps are lit
in darkened windows.
Dust gathers daily, waiting for the rain.

Fishermen sail on the calm,
hoping the wind will change.
Out there many things happen
while we are held in dreams.
At dawn the traveler
is ready to sail elsewhere.
The sea expects no less from him.
From the shore she wades to the rock.
The current is strong
in the deepening water.
She is sure to drown
unless he wakes her.
But on this morning
she is an island.
He stirs beside her.
A hand is reaching toward her waking
with the child who became
the man who sails away.

For other contributions by Geoffrey Heptonstall, please follow the link below:

Poetry in this post: © Geoffrey Heptonstall
Published with the permission of Geoffrey Heptonstall