If.
You call me, and I wake.
Figurehead, my mind’s full of numbers past reckoning —
and yet I open my eyes, rub them, stretch —
and your two stones, thrown so trustingly towards me,
are enough to break down the bastions of any words:
sea voyage.

I.
As if in a Giotto, a Duccio, those dainty, chunky towns —
much smaller than the gigantic saints or donors before them —
heart, haemoglobin red, stubborn, opaque, so small a fort,
and the walls with the little crenellations,
one glance can still take it:
breeze.

Were.
Sound of young leaves, soft whirr of young waves —
these are the Miranda hours, april of the world,
and the neat, oblong grave, four Roman soldiers sleeping before it —
when God was sweet, perhaps 15, a shy girl —
or the morning of the first day, a morning all eve —
new eyelids opening on old eyes — are —
Renaissance.

Achilles.
New rosebuds opening on old stems — coral pink,
tongue lit with a gentle flame —
you call me, and I wake.
Autumn and Jericho, the word heart forms,
jealous with light rain, an avenue of chestnut trees,
a pale green mine, malachite, a Medieval conker hoard,
or a crimson forge, workplace of the armourer —
beats — leaves — beats —
but you only have to look away, and you become
impregnable:
alone.

My.
Upon their shields, in gold, the empowering initials S.P.Q.R.
I hear your voice, this melts away —
the whorled, sevenfold trumpets of ram’s horn,
circuits of the city, 20 000 herz, and the herdsmen of words —
even the physical dead, who must come to us for pity —
the silver of Troy ore, seived and smelted —
the needlework arrows of Bayeaux —
all this melts, like mist, away:
footsteps.

Heel.
Tenderfoot, tinderbox: light, utterly serene, surrounds them
where they sleep, in altarpieces, painted lakes,
their toybox armour, dragonsblood and ultramarine,
worn upon them — to this, they must capitulate —
and in our stable and our fugitive colours
surrendered, each of us, unique petals from the head
of a single rose — in pollinating May — a wild rose — a dogrose:
breeze, again.

Would.
Jade — forest of conditions, forest of possibility:
fir trees, evergreens —
deeper.

Be.
You call me: wake up Mick!
Dreamsleep. Thick slumber. Magically, you dispel the ancient day —
Vertigo sequoias — the whorling, sapping ripples of the past —
Agincourt and Magna Carta —and the habit of the cave is broken.
The verb is —
‘is’.

Your.
Tuscan Jerusalems — Gethsemanes and Dante’s sandals —
and Petersburg Golgothas — Mandelstam —
Frankincence and cedarwood — darkness, briars —
old footsteps on a new path,
and the gospel Trecento silver in Judas’ palm,
his dashing yellow cloak of formulaic tempera.
The reposed centurions linger by the grave —
new footsteps on an old path —
their breeches of rumpled mauve, robes of burnt orange,
tunics of moss green, the whole fanned out
as in a fresco by Ugolino, or by Duccio,
like a rainbow trousseau, or set like a theme in music
for some somber variations: the grave is empty,
and there is no Christ; the grave is full,
and there is — no christ;
the painting is empty, and there is no grave —
only the senses, voices, petals —
rose.

Tears.
Defenceless one, benighted one, vulnerable one, hush,
there will always be pain in the city.
Midnight of the world’s night, it’s always with us,
striking, one half of the earth belongs to it.
Giotto di Bondone, Duccio di Buoninsegna, in azurite or terre verte,
wake the god from fleeting colours,
from the grave of painting,
but the soldiers are not dead, but merely sleeping.
Defenceless one, vital one, my beautiful alarm,
you call me — Mayday of the world’s spring —
and I wake, and peer through the branches and the leaves:
the English word is stirring — for the first time it is
love — rising, moving, being
new footsteps on a new path —
wishful, unlikely, absurd.

If I were Achilles, my heel would be your tears.

— But who’s that there,
laughing?

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