The flame is out

There is no wisp left stirring. Nor is there hope:
no claim upon a light-weave brilliance
that hovered, shook the earth, and then was not.

A jolt is left, a return to familiar ground,
a wavering impression
as of a click, a sudden switch-off flatness;
and a knowledge, strange, of disentanglement.


No, I shall not be a tame resident
of a wood for the dying.
Sunlight through mottled branches
is not the way of it; nor shall I
clump towards the shared breath
of an all-too-rooted patch of common concern.
Nor shall I leave the savage openness
of the old war of the world under the sky . . .
what am I thinking of, to slow to stillness,
to tiptoe my way into a storage unit – ?
I shall not die in a rabbit-hutch.


Is it goodbye?
That dawn, that stream, that sweet and neighbourly air . . .
what other land is this?
Perhaps, if I stay still, and do not hope,
as the continent of the seasons shifts about me,
one day, one night, one second
will grace me with a breath of that light time,
a sudden transference
of something more than memory,
all unasleep.


I shall not hope. At times I may remember
a splashing, and your swimming out beyond me.
Of all the moments that we shared together
it is the one I think will stay the longest.


But I am left hanging – a fly in a shred of web –

for I can not let go of a thousand hours
of being at one, on our many excursions.
Of being entrusted with a new, third presence
that took its place, in the all-round outside,
and in our openness found its own room.
There we were unguarded with each other
in the great dark, being shielded in that space.
Wherever we went, on a trip to the harbour,
to a concert in a church, a walk in the fields,
a drive to a friend’s, or pausing for a picnic,
or else a conversation on a bench,
we were included in the other’s orbit,
as a part of something else with its own presence.
We were encircled by a touch of Being.

A web is torn. I do not understand.


Towards what dreariness
the day sets in. What rumours of bare roads
at dusk, what huddling in night’s shadow.
I shall grow old alone. And the light of the past
will fall away, to let die out, no more
than a cutaway, a shrivelling scrap, a discard
of the scythe of night.
Even now
the barrier’s gate hangs loose, a darkening flood
seeps in.

I wait in an empty room. Such dust
of days, such airless choking dreams of night,
such monstrous wastage of time’s fortunate offer.
I wait, and know that all the meanest-worst,
the dirt and grit, the state of disrepair,
the squalor, the dishevelled being, the rot
that set in almost as my brain was formed,
all this will circle me, and mount, and rage,
until the room is closed up.

of old, of new. In a presentiment
of age I see the worst that it may be
in silent half-light now. I know the claw
of lonely time . . . and to what slovenliness
it can return.


She came at Christmas
in love. And the flame
of a dark-wavering
drift, a deep flicker
of death-affirmation –
is out. Such indulgence
of a blind drama
has had its day.

She came at Christmas
in love. And the freshness
of two or three days
is held in a holly-twig
we stole from a churchyard.
Just a small stick
filched from a tree.
So a life-symbol
we differently come to
stays in the memory
of a new time.

She came at Christmas
in love. And the roaring
of that other fire
is heard in the heavens.
Will an evening blaze
of beauty include us,
to draw us in?
Is there a difference
to always divide us?
Whichever, I can
go down the time’s turnings
at one with the elements . . .
and the cold is good now.

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