And the water was a living, breathing thing,
Content sometimes to nudge at one’s toes;
Weave between them like a well-trained pet
Weaves between his owners legs.
Other times, it reared great and terrible teeth,
Hard enough if not from their weight,
Or sharpened points or solid bulk –
Then from their sheer force of will,
Like a boy’s intent to harm his father
When he believes himself wronged.
Yet he still loves the man who
Brought him into being.
And so it is that the stream and brook
And river and ocean and rain
Quieten soon, lay placid once more
Around one’s ankles, and fingers, and toes.
You moved too many mountains for me,
And now the ground is rocky –
Now the earth quakes beneath us –
Now oceans grow wings
To fly at the land where they
Break all the things that they
Swore they would love;
Now I hold onto fences, lamp-posts,
Abandoned cars and bicycles
There were rose bushes in the garden
So sometimes she sat outside
On the meltingly hot days
And later, more and more
On scratchy, windy evenings
With nothing to do but listen to the birds –
And later still, when there were no birds,
Since the trees had died and rotted now,
All she did was listen to the wind
And her breath
This building reeks of old secrets,
The chain on its door paint-flecked,
Eroded from years of keeping
Bad men out and good men in,
Good men out and bad men in:
The lost years no one can remember
Bag hitting back
Every step, every step
And the climb is a long one
They called her
Fat girl, retard,
Immigrant, come to steal our jobs
They called her
Slut, snitch, whore, grass,
Slag, bitch, horse-face,
Skanky little know-it-all,
Ugly, stupid, no-friends,
And the climb is a long one.
It was evening,
And the lights glittered in the
Silver pools of his eyes
And the silver threads of molten, rippling
Darkness across the city.
It was evening
But nobody slept that night.
Skin like cinnamon spice.
When she smiles it crinkles
With crêpe-paper lines.
Lashes like dragonfly
Wings on the sky,
Blackened and tear-smudged
Like the worst goodbyes.
The sky is purple and so is the sea
The clouds great masses
Smothering us, taking our air
For themselves; then they descend
Till we are in them,
Till they are everything
And there is just the flat, grey-violet mist
Frothing where the ground used to be
Where our feet used to be.
In winter the leaves fell off their trees
The flowers died
And all the branches became a cage
To keep the moonlight out at night.
In spring the blush of weeping buds
Whose petals cried
Filled the woods; and then they fell
Were trampled at the roadside.