Today is the same day As yesterday, And every day preceding too. The weather may change – The same bleeds tomorrow – And slowly then, a view. A skinny, catkinny frost, All futures somewhat like Frozen carp in a cube, Suspended, inanimate Within a lake unthawed; A whitening sun ignored, Bleaker the sky, and blanched, Inscrutable eyes widely forlorn – A stupefied state – So too the perch, The grayling and the dace. And so too, yes, the sky, White as a severed heron’s chest, White as survival and yet Still agonisingly fruitless, I pack up my taxonomies, Slowly headed for home In my exposed, irrevocable chest.
Sarcoma days, Tower of Babel skies, I tiptoed across our dam At the top-end of Crow Lake Where we once stripped And with youth’s fearless Exuberance Ebulliently we dived. There, beneath obtuse And lucid ways of waters We swam together Through shoals of mouldy Long-drowned dreams Before arriving, hands held, At a blocked sluice gate We remembered, And a rusty pump, Green from age and Exhaustion, Before Victorian weirs Weaving weeds between Words and memory, Water and air, You, the wharf-god’s daughter; There, we found a forgotten, Unexploded bomb.
Nowadays, I want to blast myself open So that you can see what is inside. You missed how I found The secret to eternal life In that furniture store on the high street, On a kitchen shelf disguised Amongst the pans and knives. If uncovered by anyone else Then doubtlessly This elixir, this Canary-coloured liniment Would be instantly, Relentlessly, Mercilessly commodified, By gaudy adverts plastered, Just as they sold us that very same Water, and air, and life. I stored it for a little while, As always, capriciously Unable to determine A fixed course of action, And then I decided A reasonable middle path By stirring tea leaves Judiciously in that fluid – I studied that substance For years in a porcelain cup On a worn antimacassar Right there beside me, Then thought, before It was too late, To pour everything into A kitchen sink In need of bleaching.
Here then, the other side Of nowhere, Huge cooling towers Bruising the sky, Testament to an older lie. What did you find Inside my stomach – An empty bottle, Some faded magazines And a buzzard left to die.
Lately this bald lake Is a beer can graveyard, More litter than fish which Occasionally float On the surface, lifeless And bloated and stripped Of their sequin-coloured Sequences. Still, a scent of bergamot, A lost incongruous Birdwatcher with Binoculars on a cord Around his neck Says a cheerful hello And we are on our way.
A single bold swan Wandered into a restaurant Beside the lake Yesterday as we ate, Yellow tag on her ankle, Perusing for food, Brazen and tame. She could take my dreams And sculpt with her beak A series of images With memories interlaced.
Little then required to inspire me, Just you and me and a song; For many years afterwards, Years after you had gone, I wondered whether that swan Had ever visited at all.