They had kind faces I was pleased to trust,
Pleased to give. (Cold water, cold water – cold
In the warm room where everything is blue
Or very red.) Blue plastic seats like hard
Curved clam shells, bodies in soft tunics like
Nursery walls. A cherry face, wispy
Grey curls: ‘I tell you, my dear,’ she muses
O’er my punctured flesh. ‘I didn’t know what
Day it was this morning!’ I saw my face
In the glossy ladybird sat on my
Fingertip. That was a strange joy – so quick
And full and soon to fly. My dear life’s blood
In nine minutes drained; my neighbour in five.
Fast blood was hers, like sharks. But slow or speed
Both new life give, old love save, as we bleed.
I ask, if thou might know, to tell me plain
From whence did man so cloak from that disdain
Past which we seldom reach – to welcome see
With bright eyes the celestial shape of thee.
Of such, there is no answer in my breast.
Inclined, I do admit, to think it jest
And thus await the snatching of the rug,
Its green-gold grandeur vanquished with one tug.
But oh! The whisper’s true, the heat and breeze
Does brush my skin. The shimm’ring bended trees
Do stroke the glassy blue; the regal swan
And goose find rest. The sparrow here, then gone.
But ‘tis the heron, mighty Zeus of Coombe
Whose wings like bellows o’er thy face do loom.
Wingèd machine, grey as winter dawn, does
Edge over old royal bones. Both tired,
Hallowed – still as morning. See – one stirs,
Eager black pearl eyes awake with joy
Attend the morrow’s young; as do sleepy
Red ones. Four shapes were ne’er so brimming with
Death and life – bloody streaks of sweet struggle,
Yearnful presses at life’s door like beggars
On the midnight street. It is dark in here,
Under this skin of yours. But they want out –
Come, small creature, into the cold where we
Are lost on you, as pale summer roses,
Like apple blossom, pink and trembling – down
Like white confetti, white as innocence.
I had a bath Slave. Sweet, good-tempered Fi,
With skin as Butter in the English heat.
Her touch as feathered down; ‘tis odd my heart
Did swell than times I would my husband meet.
The still warm waters of the gild goddess
Did often cleanse me of mine wrongful blush.
Dawn’s young light would find me as I wept,
And begged and prayed these songs of love might hush.
I scratched her name on lead. Up came the breath
To meet my plea and down it went, my sin.
Her blood would spill as water does,
Clear as diamond, lifeless, dull as tin.
‘Tis better for to hear Minerva speak
Than after fruitless love to desperate seek.