We split. There was no way forward but breaking
there was no way back
to the lights of the spring.
I started to take photographs of clouds.
The sky was so beautiful that summer:
it was full of you, but not quite.

The bathroom was jewelled and historic, like a Vuillard.
I lay there scented with remains
of oranges and jojoba
and set out on the long slow task of forgetting.
Roses grew from your breasts,
your head sprouted branches,
I wound a single strand of you
tight on my finger
the steam came
obliterating the heads in the mirror
but some things have half-lives
longer than others.

The silence was deep as the film
on which the clouds developed.
In the car, wild horses and bears roamed,
there was forest in the headlights for days
and so we came at last
to the little signs
of a lost civilisation,
a place human beings once lived
but were no more.

You were laughing and running your fingers
archly back through your hair.
We’ll be late you said
and the music was ethereal Scandinavian pop
the splinters of it
floated in the air around us
the diamond has melted
and the walls were blown down
so slowly we hardly noticed.

When I saw the box she lay in
I thought how small it was
how tiny her body must be and how all those years
I never saw
but now I feel
she was lonely with grandeur
epic with landscapes touched by her let
fall by her
not contained but containing
the deserts and the gaping skies:
she carried the coffin
it was always inside her, all that time
and the ivory silk
and the darkness which will never know light.

It’s the gift you never want to open, but must,
he said ‘Gift’ is the German for ‘poison’.
When I play those old songs
it’s like the first scent of the sea
after years inland
I guess the older you get
the more you have memories
and the greater the space
between them.

Down in the nucleus where the engines run,
a daydream of neurons, Hiroshima and momentary stars,
down in the basement of matter, in the atoms
of the words, at the core where the power lies
our ordinary days go on
and we drift together and apart
slowly or quickly
depending on where you think you are
and how your time is passing.
Routines and trains have come between us,
all we could want and all we could fear,
a secret we keep yet ache to tell
Come closer I whisper
to no one
I have something to say to you.

After the dragon’s fire of parting,
when the sky seemed as still as a photographic plate, then,
I found you in cumulus, in cumulo-nimbus,
in stratospheric cirrus, in alto-cirrus,
and when you were with me,
I lost you.

It’s strange. I thought I knew what was inside you.
I believed we had an understanding.
Now I see you are full of clouds,
and go on, much longer than I thought you could.