A piece of ice, broken ice
it is the hard clarity of the surfaces here,
the real ones, the mountains and the cliffs,
escarpments and caves, whose glacial substance
that material of myth and legend- that ice,
which crept over and stole the mountain tops
blanched them, and kept them as present
for her granddaughters, that ice
which glitter-gluts itself on the landscape-
crawls into my vision, unwanted as a snake,
sinks into my pupils, maps onto my dreaming.
the glacier is lying abeam to us now. Rapt,
in a long grey coat I trace the window, bus ambling,
figure the lapses of the sky as gaps in the glacier’s vision
spikes, blades, edges. these are the peaks that clothe its stretches
queering the sparkle to a dull glaze, scattered
with a scant frost, like some natural wrinkle-
steeping slopes that boil the sun’s heat to a shimmer,
lick up the light like a delicious meal, a place
so vast that its shadow is a being of its own.
this expanse whelms itself into belief, digs a depth in me,
ministers a coldness. it is perhaps
the glamoury of this place, this shimmering harness
of blue-let sky and glittering bay, that seems borderless,
this land that lived and breathed and needed no human
to be real, had no desire to be seen.
feel the levelling grains, formation of helter skelter rock,
ridges of fish bones crenulating the mass, packing the lumps
of bouldering stone, the mullion of this hard land
against a callous sky. the kind of ground that makes you fumble,
halfway away from a slip or an accident, always at the edge of a fall,
the land craving to knit rock and sinew, desires
a body to slump on its shores,
to offer itself to the bleak descent of the birds,
bones and bits of jaw strewn about the beach.
Here is my new back garden; here is home at least
for the next fragment of time; 'the forseeable future'.
Sometimes it's better not to see anything too clearly.
I have seen you in the bitter brash cold of a February morning;
the icy blue of the sky biting into the skin, wear inappropriate clothing to feel something,
to feel the chill and the thrill of being warm again:
This is the cold I imagined when I was younger
high-rise tower-blocks and we'd lie, facing on the grass
staring each into the icy blue
the mortality of sentiment
the things you take for granted, most of the time,
blood rushing to your cheeks as a social cue
and not to save your face from freezing
this was where the cold of nature does battle with the warmth of hearts
and there's only going to be one winner --
I have seen you in the bitter brash cold of a February morning.
I have seen you on a sunny slow Sunday lunchtime;
gazed out on the faroff nests in the trees from the sacrificial altar
danced like room-dust in the shimmering light, happy to
burn for now and then become a thing quite forgotten.
I have skipped around the loop and past the stone and taken
the stairs, two at a time, defiantly exuberant.
I have seen you on a sunny, slow, Sunday lunchtime.
I've seen you on Monday afternoons
I have watched you while I was supposed to be taking notes
when the succor of eye contact and a fleeting smile
is not available
and children play and scream as if the sky is collapsing
which, of course, it is
I have seen you while I was yearning to be somewhere else
with the entire universe a few feet away from me
(feet which might as well be light years)
I've turned your weekly routine into shoddy poetry
I've seen you on Monday afternoons
I have seen you in moments of nighttime tranquility;
the cold the friend I could rely on to keep the world at bay
I have paced up and down like a sentry, staring out
at the lights that forage in the meadow,
keeping a solemn vigil, this superstition that rituals will preserve us.
I have seen you through the eyes of a drunk;
confused, sliding, slipping, slurring; self-destructive
patiently explaining that this was the point:
I have seen you determined that I wasn't going to see anything
Drown the senses in sound and cold and visions
of sprawling trees reaching out their little limbs to the sky
think in staggering zigzags and repeated phrases
tried to use you to exorcise, to eviscerate
to separate the parts that do no good
leaving some pure and soundless whole that could ascend
On silver wings, and laugh, and only love.
I saw you unexpectedly one night, on returning, the sky lousy with stars
All the noise and light pollution vanished for a day
I could scarcely believe anyone was as pleased to see me as you were that night.
these are the things that tantalise, and make you believe in providence
give us hope and doom us still. Orion. Casseopiea. Jupiter.
The words of ancients; the light fantastic shines on
from stars long-dead, dreams long-dreamed.
This is the present tense, the impossible now
How could anyone want to be anywhere else but
this place, where beauty screamed defiantly from above
I've walked past you on my way up to heaven, and I didn't think to look at all.
I learn from you to speak like underwater.
And the murmurs and the curling black.
And me and him thinking through the swash.
In the middle of the meaning of your words
wrap up the stories in sentences and billowing words.
Oil-speaking soft on the ears,
pooled language – history in a circle,
circles in circles, everything again and again,
the unending unpacking of sounds and sights
into me and you and they want to speak to us.
The horoscope speech, wrapped around.
And in the words thrumming
through the shell of cloud.
At the feet of the smoke-plume
reunpack and push through the fog.
Are you learning?
Can you read me?
Let’s start with the pronouns.