Poems

Even in the Dark

the leaves are still

falling – it’s a steady smattering now –
dark on dark they

drop through moony shadows
and into crisp, earth-smelling banks:

[meanwhile, we sleep,
turning like planets in the strangeness of

deep dreaming] –
still, the leaves carpet field, roads

and the quiet floor of the woods;
they fill the lengthening night,

whispering of things fallen
and falling, of what sighs

and subsides, of what bides its time,
breathing slow into the long cold of winter,

all in calm readiness for the onset
of small things –

say, a chink of pale light,
the shift and slip of change.

New Born

Slicked
back with creamy vernix,
you seem to me a
small wet seal,
wrapped tight in your white
cotton blanket.

I hold the bundle of your body
perfect
in my arms –

they were made for this,
they do it without thought
for anything –
not even my naked,
bleeding body,
or the bustle,
subsiding,
in the room behind me –

you watch me ,
still;
together we learn the
words of
touch,
and warmth,
the language of our beating,
proximate
hearts:

holding,
cleaving,
braiding and
spinning apart like the bright
ribbons on the maypole,
their cords of rich colour
twisting
in the sun:

Little child,
complex already,
your crinkled eyes,
all dark pupils
under these dimmed lights,
fix
on me –

Daylesford Massage

Stranger’s fingers, knuckles, then palms
knead the oiled skin of my back
finding the old knots,
gnarls of muscle and bone and grip
of scar;
my body like a map,
an archaeological dig through histories
of tension, the long lineage of injury,
the genetics of structure,
of hours spent hunched over a desk –
wilting beneath the firm pressure of these working hands
I am transparent,
my right ovary pulses out this month’s lost cargo,
its own fist of tightness,
and in the soft hum of voicelessness
spine and pelvis become visible,
easing into place –

meanwhile my querulous, monkey mind slides to a place
just below the surface of the water –
its swaying reeds, the cool green underside of waterlily leaves –
resting,
like a fish in dappled shallows.

 

Harmonic

For Dean Frenkel

 

A man becomes
a bird –
his throat
alive
and
tremulous
with      pitch of
soil and leaf and
swirl
of heat –
he sings,
as Ovid knew,
the strange and siren language of the clouds:

The breadth of this man’s
body,   bone and
muscle, the
burr of bass
grounds
(for now)
the spilling
liquid notes that
strain and dive like gannets
in the shimmer of the summer day.

Listeners, singers,
we slip
into that feathered form
and find the breaking,
lifting language of that simple
voice,
the bird,
entire
that soars –
soars
into the endless breathing of the fluted air.

 

 

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