The First Time I Saw Your Winter
I rebranded snowdrops:
they became shame lilies,
juniper berries – Nordic furies,
leaves – luns: from the Old
meaning to let a breath
flee from idleness.
got more picasz, less hefda, more
shenikï. Each word became a wire
birds sprang from.
Your turn now.
Shoo. Stand in front of a mirror
not knowing you’ve been named.
It will be as if, for the first time ever
you’ve just seen yourself.
The Second Dance
after James Cousins’ duet, There We Have Been
I will lay my body on your body one day.
When I lay my body on your body it will be flat.
I will peel us together from the toes:
pack my calves onto your shins,
float your knees into my knees.
I will sit on you like an incongruous hound.
Neither of our bodies will be clothed. It will be deep winter.
Our bodies lit like opera singers
on a floor in a small wooden hut
hours away from the nearest city,
it’s a name crammed with xs and qs
that we write on paper, because when we say it
we feel inadequate. We will be realising
we don’t love each other,
but we haven’t told out bodies that
and our hands have made a spitting fire
that the buds of our knuckles unfold to.
Will we regret then this monster we made
or love again the strangeness of our shape –
our shadow flooding the ceiling, laughter
scuttling up into the woods as raucous bugs?
‘The burning’ is a phrase used in Norfolk to describe phosphorescence
My accomplice stumbles away out of colour,
then stops at the edge abruptly, as if the sea
were a window that appeared in his house.
The ship-like buildings of midnight mount behind us:
moonset fugitives, two pilgrims wading into our silence.
We swim above a town they say sunk beneath us.
If the tide were low enough, the wind
would rush through the bell towers.
I turn back, skin crackling and could cry or sing,
shaking constellations from my hands. Stars slip
off my fingers, like scales from a fisherwoman’s knife.
We lay each other out in wet sand.
The waves extinguish themselves,
tug and resist bare feet, bare shins, bare skin.
And yes, the town might never have existed,
but even if you imagine it, it will lie
somewhere there before you. The legend
is still hauled from the depths, and there are hours
of fire left, and the sea is sinking in.