Bathed in red light,
seated at a table,
alone, an unknown woman gets ready
to light a cigarette.
She opens the cigarette case
with a habitual gesture,
she takes out a cigarette,
puts it between her lips.
With her left hand she
brushes a wisp of hair from her face,
with her right she takes a lighter,
flicks it open with her thumb
and strikes the flint.
The flame leaps up
shines in her eyes,
over her hair,
as she brings the cigarette slowly
toward it, and sensually,
in the timeless pause
of her invisible ageing,
her first breath.
Here, there is no death. All forms sift, one from
another. Everything floats and hovers. I shut my
eyes & see macadam sucked up to the skies. Acacias
give generously of their shadows, strewing the white
of their scent. Cherry trees answer from the garden's
farther end, from the outer edges of day. Their speech
will soon become red. Grey-brown house fronts, with
windows sun-blazed as square-eyed giants, gobble up
the afternoon sun. Yellow digger-trucks scoop away
the hillside. I am small. I stroke a kitten that's smaller
than the May-time grass. I hear people's voices coming
& going from the house behind. When they enter, they
are licked by the dark & chill cool, when they exit
they are showered by the sun's dust. Elder flowers
keep the gardens back from the road, from the world.
Only crumpled voices and felled shadows come into
its inside. Everyone's calling me by my name & laying
their hands on my head. I don't yet know the words –
Anger, Fear, Hate, Pain, Leave-taking – I don't know
the spaces behind their sounds. I don't know anything.
Only this garden, an infinite squint to conjure a world.
If I lie on my back, I can see the clouds. If I breathe
calmly, the clouds change : an air-plane, a dog's head,
a horse, a sheep, the whited palms of the snow furies.
Now we sail together. Seven seas & nine hills we have,
to get to the first river, the last valley. Never an end to
this garden. No end to the world. In the rooms of time,
at the crossroads of days, eternal light glows, or else
a single candle. It makes no difference. On gold's inner
rim, the future days make circles. Because I'm small,
I cannot read them. Because I'm small, I calmly slide
under the eye-lids of Time. Doors into light are wide
open, soft-cushioned. They don't slam shut on anyone,
they don't reject anyone. I lie and watch and I breathe
inaudibly. The garden will be a cloud any minute now.
Like this it can last for ever in the archives of the sky.
For two years my shadow's become a rain
of words. The world has not changed. Earth
purges itself and bleeds. Months follow on
months. Rainy days alternate with the sun.
People walk along the pavements. And they sit
in cafes & talk. Women grocers in the market
are friendly. The smell of fresh vegetables good.
Paradise and the Fall sometimes find themselves
in balance. Insights to the world, withdrawal from
one's own cosmos, broaden life, rough the edges.
The earth is what adds on time, Natasha's body,
her warmth and her voice. If my ego undermines
them, I'm vectored off to another point in space.
Then I crucify myself and others. The darkness
behind the monstrosities of language flares up.
The rocket takes off without its crew. Someone
who's set out alone for the South Pole, counts ice
floes in his mind, that in his captivated blindness
he won't destroy love. A baby was born to my
friend last week. He cried when he saw her tiny
head. Now he's changed & different. His voice is
softer and a trace of light rests on his face. I too
would like to place my hand on a rising belly, on
full female breasts. Only human measure binds
oxygen to itself. Criteria in art, applied to people,
hide the essence of the world. In an unknown
century, Perceval stares out at the three drops
of blood in the snow. There are more important
things in life than playing God.