From the beginning, the egg cradled in pebbles,
The drive thick with fledglings, to the known last
Riot of the senses, is only a short pass.
Earth to be forked over is more patient,
Bird hungers more, flower dies sooner.
But if not grasped grows quickly, silently.
We are restless, not remembering much.
The pain is slow, original as laughter,
Reaching for all of it, hardly aware,
Beginning again and feeling for its terrain.
We were often told and still we would not listen,
And closing fingers, those accomplices,
Took comfort from a lie. From lap to grass
Whining, motionless on the lowest branch
Above the pine needles, climbing the heather:
We did not listen. It hid there still to find.
Much since was hard to get, later displeased,
Nursing an ordinary complaint or waiting
For a reiterated brilliance,
Growing in ignorance, too near to see.
Now in the suburbs windows are on fire,
Pale globes quiver on their dusty strings
And afternoons disperse with mirth of gnome,
The rigid stabbed flamingo pink in the trees,
Split to the touch and walking by the pool.
Now life jerking in its sustained coda
Constricts its furniture and its events.
The frowning bus disappears down the hill
Or slides before the window with its bored
Passengers staring unashamedly in.
Now above the trees the ice-cream’s bare
Electric tongue stammers its recitation.
Children run out in the dumb-bell cul-de-sac
To their cold delight, skipping between the turds
Of long-dead dogs, coiled thickly on the stone.
The children learn so quickly. The house stirs.
Swallows leave earlier, apples to be pressed.
Half the sky burns: the other half is dark.
Hair pushing slowly out, generations
Surrounding us with wonder, theirs and ours.
Nothing to give, nothing has been learnt.
The past simply denies the urge for a truce,
Creeping into the egg. When it is time
We can appoint a committee for the feasts,
And for next year’s feasts, and the year after.
Locks stick, glass metamorphosed
In leafy caryatids of summer where
Heat packs the panes and fingers tremble in
Tobacco pockets, a tomato sniffed,
Its greenish acid bloom and tiny hairs.
The pain stirs again like a new life
To be unravelled. It had to come to this.
The body is nothing, the body thinks nothing,
The short senses grubbing on their sticks
Feel nothing, the forgotten carioca.
A line moves to the finger end, and curls,
Head fallen in helplessness. The wails
Of children break behind the woven fences,
Those minted faces tar beyond our sight.
The gates shut: a parade of Japanese flags.
And alive on the porch the councillor lowers his pipe,
Comes down from the dunes a bathroom Arab
Firing off caps, or crouched over shells
Gathered in sodden pumps, the soprano waitress
Bringing hot tea across the evening sand.
The nights come in slowly. Behind a half-curtain
The impossible is completed. A single lamp
Weighs down its ornaments in pools of light.
Shadows crawl over the crater, roped
To the terrain’s recoil, roped to the pit.