The youth was you. I was your particular.
If you could afford a runner as well,
you would pay me with a rickshaw.
Your handwriting was like Charles Dodgson's,
but I had no claim on your native tongue or tongue.
You told me that on the street you worked,
a neighbouring wine shop and gay underwear store
swapped premises a couple of years ago,
the underwear store
expanding into the larger space.
"Hear me howl," you whispered.
You were awkward. But unlike a wolf
you were gentle. As gentle as a canine could be.
Half an hour disappeared until you,
my wayward youth, and I, yes I, became
aware again. Then we walked your Great Dane.
When we were silent, we heard
the rattle of loosening chains.
Too dark, too wet, too late to stroll far
in pyjamas, we underestimated the night.
Still, we needn't have turned on the light to see
the stairs. And then you were back inside me.
I retreat to thoughts of you,
a warm cave in an unusually cold day,
when you are riding your bike
to buy doughnuts from a van.
You say your mother is also a Scorpion.
When you were small you had
delicate features and you dreamt of having
a curly beard like octopus tentacles.
The word you love most is nougat.
One type of sound you hate
is others’ lovemaking, although sometimes
they may be doing aerobics.
Your bicycles are your mistresses.
You love harmony, old phones and peaches.
If I cut through you there is cheesecake honesty,
fingers snapping to dance beats.
Are you back yet? I whisper your name
in my submissive voice but you don’t reply.
It’s with you, you’d say. My name follows
you, wherever you go.
Everything in the world exists to end up
in a postcard, some say.
The empty sea on the card, for example,
reveals the thousands of ships that have crashed
into misunderstood lighthouses.
The dust-coated plastic flower
in a blue and white porcelain vase
shows nobody lives here.
But given enough time, paper
will decompose in a warm, damp landfill,
while every sound ends up
in the air.
Everything’s preserved: whispers, gossip,
the rising chatter
in a crowded restaurant.
Ever and forever, it all vibrates in the air
in a diminishing, fixed ratio
beyond the end of the day,
after we are all gone.
Last night, your string of strained
sounds – undetectable to
my now-submissive ear –
settled in the eternal present.
There are many, many moments
when such realisations occur. Some more
frustrating than others. And life is short.
The realisation that the things you own
(or, shall I say, the things you think you own)
bear little significance.
At least not now, not before your next
cup of coffee, your next quick something.
I have all these books on Renaissance poetry
but I have no time to read – perhaps
after three seasons of subtropical rain,
I'll pick them up, pick them up again, but
mostly I wish to be idle, to feel
the restfulness of an unturning wheel.
It's like everybody must have something
made from scrabble and I do too –
a scrabble tile pedant,
its letter has absolutely nothing to do
with my name or me.
A boy told me the other day,
'I would probably get jealous but not now.'
Although said in perfect proportion, it hurt.
I know, I know. He's not a thing.
Should I brush aside these moments, be
indifferent? I guess the best thing to do
is to tell you, you, and you, that you will have
these moments and should feel bad, too.
I guess I need moments like walking
through the ginko leaves.