Feeling, it always starts with a feeling.
There’s nothing we can do about that.
Taking hours to sort out your junk jewellery,
ropes of metallic silver pearls entangled
on your black lap and your
black knees and thighs. Your tights
made me think of circus performers,
or figures from the commedia dell’arte.
Poets will have their reasons.
At least, fake ones will.
In any case, it wasn’t you
who brought me the sea or the sea’s
head shaking slowly back and forth,
or the foam held shooting from its jaws,
but the woman sitting next to you.
You faded quickly, raindrop to the rain.
You were not there when the deer
came to the clearing, or, more shyly,
like a lover’s first thoughts
on closing the door and leaving near dawn,
you were not there
when the clot
soared in the blood to the brain:
you were not there
when God came to the God spot.

You. Not you, or you, or you, or you, but
you. When the moon falls through a hole in the clouds,
and no doubt Saturn has something to do with it,
and the rings of Saturn, the slow approach
of violins across the plains, forecasts
of storms forming over the Atlantic,
you happen to be there,
standing inside me, waiting for your husband.
He happened to be there, once; and now,
after a day it snowed oranges,
we happen to be here, you and I.
So subtle and encompassing, for each of us,
this life’s unease of the signified.
And no doubt Venus has something to do with it,
pheromones and October and sweat.
You brush your hair, and make yourself beautiful,
and I look at you through my old-fashioned tears,
you hold your Ted Baker mirror at an angle,
glance at me, smile as if you understand
or as if you don’t understand, and then
go back to untangling jewellery.

Or is it a mood? What the Germans call Stimmung?
The thread of a memory, infinitely parched and spectral,
recalling us back to ourselves,
and Ajax and Achilles? Chemistry? Just glimmering?
And what do they do out there, in those other lives,
across the wide, dry fields, faded chocolate plough?
Measured, and interior, like a farmer’s love,
remote and slow as summer clouds,
hollow and succulent, then over, lukewarm
icewater slung from the champagne bucket, evenings spent
researching seed types and pesticides…
Sailors, on watch at night, in a quiet
stretch of water, their thoughts,
the unheard rumble of the engines and the sea.
Time, of course, all the time in between
the phases of the moon, or the moments one woman
passes through the haze of another woman’s perfume.
Nuanced things: all the people waiting.
The big picture, and the bigger picture still.
A young child, native to April, hair freshly washed and combed,
laughing and squealing as she runs up the front path,
chasing her pregnant laughing mother home.