I can still feel you on my lips.
When I kiss, I feel you.
When I laugh, surprising myself.
When my mouth is a crescent, I can still feel you.
When there is no moon.
When I say the words, ‘rise up’.

You are tired out with the struggle,
and I am a long way from you.
There’s a moment which is quite still,
and you might say it’s the moment before the decisive action begins,
when the quality of things grows magical
like the light of a thunderstorm —
my hands should be taped like a boxer’s hands,
the bout is about to commence,
I need protection.

I am thinking ahead to the day we separate,
and I have to say the words, ‘rise up’, to thin air.
We fought our way deeply into the night,
we left it no defence at all,
and there was a moment when we paused,
and looked at each other —
and we laughed, because there was no more world left to conquer,
and then, for the same reason, we cried.

There’s a moment which is quite still.
When you kiss deeply, and the breath in your lungs
belongs to your lover,
that stranger you have fought your way through to,
fought off, fought for,
and whose intimacy is like a god’s,
invisible and embracing, humdrum, made of words,
authorial, made of days, made of scents and tracks,
made of the first glance in the morning,
made, above all, of a gigantic, regal absence —
there’s a moment which is quite still,
in which the fighting is over and the god is dead,
and you love more deeply than you have ever loved before
because you are not loved and yet you love,
and there is no world left for anyone to conquer,
but you must still watch them, fighting their way
ever deeper into the defenceless night,
which hurts them, unbearably, with the sunlight
of what has passed, and what can never pass.

It is a sunlight like a moonlight, cool and chaste,
and a round darkness when the birds fall quiet
and for a little while
the earth grows cold,
and you feel the eerie magnitudes of the planets moving
under your feet and around your head
when the stars fall silent like the birds
and the sun is like a bright-eyed raptor hooded,
and your life and your world
passes into shadow.

They are moments when you may sense
the axis of all things turning,
and the mighty engines of a spinning wheel spinning
creaking on its spindle,
a car coughing, not starting,
the grind of a body’s hub against its axle…

When the gravity cuts and laws are suspended,
the rumbling, juggernaut routine trembles to a halt,
in a moment between trains in a provincial station,
on the end of the platform where a lark is singing
and michaelmass daisies grow between the sleepers,
there’s a moment when one world ends
and you could know me by a different name,
a stronger and a sweeter name,
know me by the trail of the burned and the wounded,
by the ones we could dispense with,
those we could forget, those we never even knew:
then my indifference is almost divine, almost universal,
and my love a tiny absence,
like a lost glove, a hair on a pillow,
or a call reverse charges.

I can still feel you on my lips.
When you kiss, I feel you.
When I laugh suddenly, surprising even myself.
When my mouth is a crescent, I feel you.
When there is a new moon.
When you say the words, ‘rise up’.

There is such duress in this world.
You and I, will there ever
be peace between us?
There’s such pressure in this world,
sometimes you sense you’re not using
your whole name.
There is such duress in this world.
There is such brilliance in this world.

When the skyscrapers split and the metals failed,
the pressure was an abyssal blow,
like punching thumbs through an eggshell,
the hull too thin, the skin too frail,
the fall too far, the gravity too real,
when the clamshells, suckers, opened in the heat,
when love was made,
then we understood anew
how Nature abors a vacuum,
and how the luscious void
lies inside us,
a child with only one glove,
a delve in a pillow where a dream was felt,
a call reverse charges.

There is such brilliance in this world.
We were on the pavement by the busy road
when a derelict saw your children and
impulsively, with the money he’d been begging,
lurched over into the grocers,
bought the children a bag of strawberries,
then staggered off to rejoin his friends,
incoherent on spirits.
When he came towards us,
we grew quiet and uneasy,
as if he were carrying a grenade.
The children jittered and flinched
and fell quiet,
it was a gift.
I wondered what lay, deep in his memory,
spurring him to do what he did.
But we fell quiet, like birds at an eclipse,
when he came towards us.
There is such duress in this world
it will break us all.

You are tired out with the struggle,
and I’m far away from you.
We’ll never be at peace, you and I —
you’re too far away, curled up
in a corner in my smile
and in the automatic darkness
when my eyelids eclipse my eyes.
We’re never at peace, you and I,
but I don’t want to leave you my war —
I will not leave you my war.

Words, perhaps more loyal than us, may stand guard.
Love wore us out, but nothing will wear out words.
They’ll stand guard over us, the people we never were.
They are calmer than time, impassive,
faithful right down to the last human voice on earth.
They will witness our lives,
even as we sleep they will watch over us;
they have seen my shame, my lies,
they possess an intimacy greater than lovers’,
or of two boxers, one stood over the other,
both with eyes that are like torn strawberries,
and they form in our mouths: rise up.

And the people we never were will guard over us:
they’ll know, love wore us out,
but we could not wear out love.

Sometimes it is better to break than to remain whole.
Only then may you survive.
Only, when you are broken, you must try
to bear your broken name.

And the people we were will forget us.
They won’t know about love, and they won’t care
love is as fickle as a word,
and words are futile as love.

You will know.

You will forget.

Rise up.

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