La Ville Rose

Switching from black next
Into pink-red ink,
I wrote to you
On a postcard
From a cruise ship
In Tolosa, a city you know
As Tolouse.
Strange how dreams
Shift and slip
And casually blend,
For you and I know well
It’s a few hours drive,
Through foothill climbs
And Alpine screes
With views, O such scenery!
Bridging rivers in spate
And by old Limoux,
To reach the sea
Though give if fifty years
Or perhaps fifty two,
And Toulouse could be
A Venice anew.

Forgetting to keep
My writing hand removed
From a postcard’s edge,
I smudged the ink
And forgot what to do.
Though I had not seen my
Friends for half that time,
There they were travelling too
On our erstwhile cruise.
I could not find my shoes,
And so they disembarked
With cheery ‘see you soons’,
À bientôt!
With dreaming ways
Approximating every day
You moved away from the group,
Grabbed my hand, urgently said:
Retrouvez-nous au bureau de poste
Sur la place de la ville
And though the memory
Is firmly impressed,
You did not speak French
And our meeting proposed
Did not take place,
But blew away
Like seeds escaped
From a dandelion’s tooth.

On the postcard
I wrote about
A dream preceding that very
Same night; I felt this need
To communicate its birth,
Its bald and blind occurrence.
We were back at that bungalow
Our grandmother built
And owned; after death,
The parcel of land
Divided up, small acre
Made unhindered by
Childhood imagination,
Where once we played
But do not any more,
We drank lemonade and
A home-made sponge,
Harvested peas and
Mowed the lawn,
Buried now beside
All future capability
To cope.
Well, a revolting mogul
Bought that land and soon
Demolished our home of hope,
With apartments compressed
Where once we roamed,
I entered his bleak building site
As if the shift in ownership
Remained unknown, observing
With deeply absymal passivity
His carpentry, in the hall
Where we shared a meal
At Adventide and Easter,
He crafted four ingenious stairs
Around a trunk revolving,
Other rooms – tarpaulins smothered,
And I realised an awful truth,
And ran as fast as I could
To the family car,
Outside that place
Upon an unadopted road.

And so I relayed this dream,
This apparition, on a card
In a dream that followed;
A card I did not
Otherwise post,
I woke in sweat,
Somewhat soaked,
Desperately attempting to
Achieve a meaning in
Those hollows, and finding
Nothing instead but sadness
For those unborn forms
A waking morning swallowed.

Bare Feet, And A Breakwater

For a fleeting moment
My unfathomable toes and feet
Seem almost real to me,
Almost within reach,
As a once-foamy, infamous sea
Slips between and over
Mirages of my own
Mutinous limbs,
Sockless and unshoed.
Saints preserve us,
I am an unremarkable sinner.
I am an extension of the sea,
The sea exhales me and
For a fleeting moment
I almost feel alive.
Treacherous, beloved sea,
Beachcombing my dreams
For all you might retrieve,
You leave me empty handed
Until randomly and yet also
Not quite randomly
A glass appears in my hand,
Liquidless, my left arm aloft
Perseveres
As I make a toast
To my seaweed-surrendered
Familial ghosts.
Involuntarily, I lift a single
Foot, prosaic yogic pose
And in doing so
Crack the tragedies;
Another wave, just
As the old; another me,
Just as the one before;
I count my losses in beads
On a cord around my fortieth wrist,
The reality is this:
My waves do not break
But retreat, and retreat;
With each gravitational pull
The Moon colludes
With the sea, and these losses
Amount to someone else’s
Distant, enriching dream.

I must fulfil something, surely.
A spine of briny breakwaters
Backtrack towards a lower tide.
I cannot physically touch the loss.
One day, with the last great loss
Accounted for, there will be no need
For water, and you will be able to walk
From here, to that line of spruces
Just visible across the gulf
Which on summer days in my youth
Likewise appeared almost real in
Their shimmering form and
Remorseless truth.