I have known the
richest scent of life.
With beautiful eyes,
I have seen
every last beautiful thing.
Is there no part of my body
that does not sing
I am sated,
the way the cicada does
just before she dies?
Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells.
It rises at street corners,
or in morning gardens hurt by the rising sun.
Sometimes on the breeze
I smell you before I arrive at your chipped red door,
scent of dinner for two, baked sweet potatoes,
scones with cream and jam,
the things you make from the songs you hum to yourself;
out of these your soul wafts
through this drunken garden to me.
The summer is in your dress as you turn in the window,
the sky is in your eyes,
sky overflowing with a bouquet of cranes,
And your world is in your embrace as I cross the threshold,
as I press myself to your impermanence,
and it is lighter than any migration,
than any wing, or moth, or mantis.
Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells,
and I seek it out with kisses,
which I plant like little assassins on your agile neck.
Like a riot of careless children,
the hydrangeas return to my garden.
They love the violence of the wind,
they dare it to unfurl them from the stamen,
to become a sail of pure disarrangement.
they out-do the infinite hues of the sky,
they out-sing the clouds.
And they are beautiful and full of hungers,
and they have forgotten the agony
of last summer’s drought.
And I am in love with their petulant hearts.
The night calls out,
death is death is death.
A crow beats its wings,
and night parts from night.
she slips in like a lover,
remembered and forgotten.
I remember life,
and death is death is death.
I accept the beating of rugs in the morning,
the cries of women to each other,
the importance of trans-continental trade,
of men who whistle when they’re sad.
Life is death is life.
I am life,
I am a war of life
that the night could not eradicate just yet,
a music of ruined and resurrected love.
I declare myself an open city,
and the dawn slips in like a lover,
I pour her a cup of coffee.
Who hurt you, night?
Who was it that gave you your melancholic gait?
The suffering of the void became too much for you, didn’t it?
And so you came down here and entered me,
and all the others like me.
Then you could bear the weight of your own heart again.
Now the night dwells in me
like a duke alone in his chateau.
And he wanders from room to room,
speaking gruffly to himself,
and stands at windows,
and turns away with an involuntary smile.
And he fills me with the primordial memories
of ruined love,
of all the love that came and went long before me,
the love that became the night’s blue hurt.
Night, my tenant,
I listen to your afflictions with an ear pressed inward,
and what I translate becomes my strength.
I read both your books
until all I saw was a thin sky,
a cold blue voice against my closed eyelids.
Your words I huddled over
as if over all my dead lovers,
and held a torch to their precious faces,
reading, weeping. I was happy.
I took your songs
and kept them in my ear’s hold for days,
until they were wax
and something I could fashion
into winds, centuries,
poorly mended hearts.
I read both your books
and turned them into a thin sky.
When I walked in the cusp of my solitude,
there where I gazed, your
wounded clouds, something to learn from.
And when it rained,
all I could hear was poetry.
Talking with you
into the early hours of each night,
we filled up my little room
with thought sparks and moments
and silences full of promise.
Did we know the motive
that brought us back night after night?
Did we sense
the hour had already fallen
barring the way home?
Did we feel the coming dawn
of the travelling hearts?
For suddenly all the moments,
the dreams, the dark hurts
rushed and bayed
at the walls of our crumbling caution,
lead us on
to more exquisite collisions.
And we spoke on
into the tired ear of the night,
recklessly pulling down
the separations between us,
and transforming into
new and fragrant years.
Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014