Through a Journey
Through a journey’s hurtling window
Across flung stations,
With fugitive eye I gauge the country.
And over the slow latitudes of soil
Beyond the sun-struck sketch of vegetation,
See the endless repetition
Of your frame, animal and iron fix
The hard angle
Of field, well, soiled shelter.
Holding, between the blank sky
And brown routes of travelled lines
Your segments of toil.
But before I can forge
The necessary dream (a plastic
Climate, changed sun, the grained flow
Of rain, willing tools for all this excess
Country) to knock me blind
With a dazzle of rice,
The window has moved into
Another eternal scene.
And already, on the far axle
That spins our stations apart
From the landscape closing round the map
Of your unsolved spaces,
A morsel runs aground in my mouth.
To a Wife Not My Own
On the stairs that day, when
with an exquisite sweep you bunched your hair
above your shoulders and with tilted eyes
asked: Does your hair ever feel hot?
I should have followed with my slight fingers
the line of your raised elbows
and, pausing on the nape of your neck,
should have quieted your smouldering skin
with my immutable lip-prints.
Instead, I sat as if abandoned
by my nerve and your hair tumbled
down and clasping your knee you broke
hastily into conversation.
Did you never notice the way my gaze failed
to make your brief rite perpetual?
You might say
The writing is on the wall
And all bets are off.
But bringing home the bacon
Isn’t like it used to be
In the good ‘ole days’.
Still, I’m holding down a job
Working my butt off
To keep the wolf from the door.
I do the best I know how
To keep clothes on your back
And a roof over your head.
So don’t die on me
Before you fix dinner.
I’m not ready for the meltdown, yet.
As I seal the envelope to drop it in
The eagle’s mouth, I hear it taking off
With a Mississippi of letters trailing skyward.
Ten thousand miles away, you rise
From your desk, blue aerogramme in hand,
To feed the red box. Sprung up in the air,
In a virtual Himalaya of mail, your letter
Heading this way, will blindly cross mine
At thirty-five thousand feet. But imagine
An earth-defying, gravity-mocking act
Of impossibility: jumping ship, my letter
Seeks out yours which has also broken
Loose, to perform a wild, high altitude
Dance on a ruffled bed of clouds. Only this
Brief, myth-making moment before our letters cross,
Riding their downward arcs East and West.