I : A Canopic Jar
When we were young, knowing and not knowing
The mass and mildness of our being and not being
And other fine complexities of time
And place and people and contingencies,
We talked a lot and walked and swam and sang
A lot and drifted through dark fading green
Our foreheads douched by dewy passion’s sheen.
Adultery for us a passing phase
Past childhood to centennial one-night lays
We swam through glades of interlacing leaves
And laughed at shadows that blew long and black
And gathered, threateningly at our lean backs.
And women, weeping at some weathering wall
Suddenly rejoice to view it fall
And one voice declaims — You shall see worse than this.
But I doubted this and walked a little
Further on, a borrowed hand guiding,
I walked further to a bank offering
Choice of sun or shade, there resting
My head as if beneath a blade, wondering
What dreams may come, but taking time to watch
Red spotted moths divebombing frightened children
Too young to realise the lack of danger
But trained to point and hiss at any stranger.
And onceuponatime those ragamuffin balls,
Where I was paid court to: whitegloved in marble halls,
And danced: puppetlike; but quick of pace
In layers of freshly laundered lace,
Let down my hair,
Whose is that step upon the stair?
Do not seek to know;
Nothing more than a dungbeatle Sisyphus,
Pushing until the moment comes to let it
Go: is that all there is to it? Is that all
Over now and nothing come of it, after all?
Pandora – truth be told – was going to give
Her jar to everyone, but Zeus tricked her
― Filling it up with demons – so when she
Opened it (as Zeus knew she would) out came
All the evils of the world and so
Pandora and all femalekind were blamed
For Zeus’s handiwork, and worst of all
That evil demon ‘Hope’ delusional.
But truth be known; Lilith, Leylah, Night
Was always friend to man, but foolish man
Was tricked into burying her jar beneath the sand.
Whispers in the Dark
Do you remember that Summer…
(you said “Sophie!
I do not think that you could ever be
A wallflower – not with a figure like that! – No Offence!)
But though men speak of you in whispers;
Speak of your mystery; they seldom hint
Of the grace you show when you step out to dance.
(And so I left – fantasising Cinderella – )
How we fool ourselves!
(You agree? And what
Pray, might you know? What indeed do you know!)
And do you remember that Autumn we last met?
When we all drank toasts to our nice degrees
And some of us drank to our decree nicis!
But all of us drank no matter what – we drank –
(“Fountain of knowledge – all drink here!” you said!)
We were sitting in that place with chairs of cane
And table mat menu cards with coffee stains –
Remember that? And him on the next table said,
(In ‘Oxford tones’ – louder than necessary)
“Shakespeare, of course – I think we’re all agreed?
For proper realisation would need
Much more than this poor theatre could supply!”
(And that poor woman with him could have died!
And not in the ‘Shakespeare sense’! Ha! Not at all!)
Which brings my mind back to that Summer Ball –
Or Spring Ball? Was it May or was it June?
I’m sure it was the solstice… That weekend
Some went on to Stonehenge, but were turned
Back… The Druids too!
(It was a shame!)
Anyway he was there.
(He was a drip!)
I saw him recently… You won’t believe it
But – he’s gay! Oh! You knew it all along?
You would of course! What do I mean? Ha-ha!
(That’s one to me I think!)
It’s time I left.
No, nothing very much, a car boot sale.
Yes, I use eBay … I sell them on.
I’ve sold my text books too
(I’ve sold my dreams!
I wouldn’t tell him that though!)
Well, goodbye! –
Air-kissing yet again! That’s twice this week!
And would it have worked out? Oh! Who can say!
It’s going to rain, I think. The sky is grey.
And into the greyness he goes marching off!
I wish I could take things less seriously!
Just look at him – his shoulders are like beams!
(Just like the ones I got the builder to
Expose and leave bare when he came last week!)
I do get bored with verbal hide and seek!
And what was I expecting after all?
What did I want to happen after all?
Lapsing into that silly, clever chat
That should have gone with all the other crap
I sold on eBay. But he did look good!
What might have been… Oh Sophie! Why did you?
Cross him off the list! That’s two down now…
Why do you do it? Oh you silly cow!