Sleeping Beauty

When I woke again, it was high summer,
the trees in full green leaf, green
on the altars, and you,
beside me, smiling, diffident,
having stopped by
to see if
you might be of assistance.
I loved all that I saw in that waking
and you, being then in the foreground,
could not help but be loved. Love springs
from the heart unasked-for, clings
to the one who stands ready
to bear it. You and I
(when I’ve become more than the end
of a quest, and you
have retreated somewhat, into perspective),
you and I will have learned
what to do with this unforeseen,
blazing, implacable love,
and then we’ll begin.

Once More in Paradise

Heaven, I sometimes think, must be
where I grew up – mid-August,
the raspberries run wild and ripe,
hens scratching in the yard,
the house dim and cool,
red tiles under bare feet;

where, all the long afternoon,
those whom I love and will love
arrive, sleepy, stretch out on the lawn,
washed in the sunlight after the long drive,

and, after, talk late round the kitchen table,
plates pushed aside,
with song and red wine and laughter,
the world set to rights.

Ascension Day, 2015

Dog-eared in my handbag, polling card
and service sheet lie face to face.
God is gone up. And what a mess
He’s left behind Him. Did He take
all of the world’s compassion, all its love
to shine with ineffectual gleam up there
and leave these few, these twelve-take-one, alone
tiny before this tide of hate and fear
surging around them? Come love, come Lord.
Show us your kingdom come
on earth, as you are
in heaven. Come, Holy Spirit. Come.

Table for One

You couples do not see me, you
who enter laughing, hand in hand,
sip from each other’s drinks, and share
an indecisive dish of olives.

I have my hands full here: fork
in the right; book
in the left. I turn
one-handed in the paper walls
of this, my chambre séparée.

The candle glows; the wine’s
a living garnet. O –

you need not pity me. I dine tonight
with Rupert Hentzau.