March blows in,
too tired for anything but waiting;
too weak for anything but waiting;
soon it must surely
tear through me, open me up
until I know, heart-deep, the brightness
that now I only see.
stretching the universe. They cannot bear
to be so near to us, our guilt
broadcast at lightspeed.
We thought we could do better.
Here, on the shore
they used to call the centre of the world,
our hopes lie drowned.
God said that it was good, and ought to know,
But we, invested in our guilty woe,
Couldn’t see that. God went below
To render, or perhaps to prove, it so.
The trees outside my window are so very green,
leaves bright (the sun flows through their veins),
the buses very red, their white roofs
(did you know their roofs were white?)
zig-zag zig-zag until the lights,
their secret numbers only secret
from the ground. Up here they’re bold and black;
it’s changed, and I, I bounce, I bounce, I bounce,
I bounce back faster now, I bounce
back higher now; I go up
(whoomph) and everything’s
on fire; this world
is good to live in; this world
has people in who make it
worth living in this world
if only for the grace
of living in the same world
as they do, and besides
the trees are so very green.
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.
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.
I know: what Rosebud was; the chief ingredient of Soylent Green;
Luke’s father’s, Roger Ackroyd’s murderer’s identity –
I’ve read the book, but two of those I’ve not so much as seen.
Thank God there’s still surprise in this reality.
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.
A heart’s an awkward thing to wrap:
the one end softly squashy,
the other gimlet sharp.
I try. The point rips through the paper;
the string slips off the curves. Well.
Here’s my heart, then; you’d better
take it as it is, and know,
at least, what you’re getting.
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.