Garden of sky-blue clothespoles
connected by string, the bobbin
dangling on the door to the shed.
There lay the dying man, who whispered,
his hand clamped on my elbow:
Use every day and bit by bit
become the Duke of Savoy.
On the stucco over the cramp-irons
in the wall of the death-shed I wrote:
Marquis Bonné, Karl-Marx-Stadt 1746,
while my great-uncle, truly great
in size, and pale and bony besides,
recounted the Alpine Battle of l’Assiettes.
The laundry danced between the posts,
I loved my cousin, the Comtesse,
when the black window shattered
and the ball in the cellar hit her, then me
in the face. At which she whispered,
her hand clamped on my elbow:
I hate you all. Get lost, go on
back West to those models of yours.
An Image of All Consolation
Shifting into year thirty-nine
with body construction sites. Sleet,
blood draws. Flee, flee,
my friend, the mimicked
fear of nausea and fainting,
look out the window…
In a jeep a white dog barks,
and the needle, indeed,
sinks into the flesh. Rapid clouds
over supermarket, clinics, bank.
In the heart of the need-serving complex
they smooth the routine of consultation,
swallowing your pain, leaving you
an image of all consolation:
a cabinet, a rusty hinge.
October, November, April
Leaves, like a freight signed for
by a chiffchaff huskily twittering October,
so the grass sends its sap up the trunk
to the branches. In apple’s place
on the meadow the touchy hydrangea
that weathers all the water, sweet,
cold and gleaming. In wasp Chanel
Ms Flower Functionary decrees November:
let a storm rise up from memory.
Clover hangs luckless at her lips.
Fogs creep into the pear orchards.
With mittens of sheer desperation
I am an ancient snow squall
making our gong sound: April.
She sticks no pins in letters,
magic and omen, she brings nothing to light,
where all is image, it seems there are no images.
She hunts without a web, runs down her prey
on the wood’s sunny edge, at the sloe’s foot
where older siblings teach her to respect
the dew on the paddock, the clover clearing,
grey-green her backdrop, grey-green like her,
her in the shade of leaves and needles,
just one more game of being another.
She loves. Once, twice. Today, tomorrow.
There will always be limits, knows Chagall
and the wolf spider in love. Black-striped,
the male she’s eying drums on a dry leaf.
It sounds like a very small woodpecker
over in the chestnut’s crown.
Then and there they form the throbbing relay,
all the unseen rivals, through the warm grass
the tapping thrums its way to her, she knowing
it’s the fading call she’ll heed, it’s him she loves.
Searching the two tree-lined lanes
I found no trace: in the hollow the torn cable
was gone. The bag, full of ropes,
the pair of stripped-off shoes you’d read about,
long since impounded. Wasps in the hydrangeas.
The bramble hedge. Shutters rolled down.
The garage light on for days and the tools
left lying in the garden, all could be read as
the pain of the living. Summer wind, hot,
and I found the names, they were sheer fire.