Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Of Virginia Woolf

You filled your pockets with stones,
a seed-sower sowing nothing,
nothing to cast away.

It must have been cold as you went down.
The bite of March water
must have brought blood
rushing in panic to your skin.
A gasp, perhaps,
as your chest submerged.
(Were you beyond gasping?
Were you so far behind the veil?)

And then the silence.
The hiss of water against the ears,
the stirred up mud against your startled eyes.
The water cold in your palms
and cold in your unravelling hair
and cold through your clothes
to your naked skin. And
the weight inside would hold you,
stronger than stones.

You stood, perhaps, for a time,
a naiad in the depths,
hair taken with the flow
until you sank full-faced and weary
into the soft silt bed.

Monday, 1 August 2011


By night I climb the scaffold.
Step, step, metallic uncertainty,
the slip-threat hanging, torch swaying,
an angler-fish bait hovering in the thickened air.
Its pool hits grass and rough-stoned walls.
Its pool hits slate, each square a sheaf pressed hard by time,
layering the roof, book-like, each a story in itself.

By night I settle my back on planks elevated
to greatness, a lifeboat up high,
mortar dust skimming my clothes.
Cold pins me down, bone-deep, empty.
I settle and stare, plunging deep to the world above,
the night sky a pool, a clarity hanging still,
a vertigo waiting to happen. Each star
a point of magnitude too great, too small,
to be believed. Each star caught, still,
a point in a scatter of billions, billions
of miles between us, too profound
to be likened to mundane things.
Ice-cold, they seem, remote and frozen
but each a maelstrom in itself, watching,
glitter-eyed, white-hot.

I think that making love in this
cold thin air, high up, pressed by stars,
pressed by scaffold boards powdered with mortar,
would be an explosive thing. It would
be a tumbling on the edge, quick, cold,
vital, once-in-a-lifetime. Impossible.