September, The acupuncturist, Or something & The sun's two orbits
[ poetry - september 04 ]
Again someone's whispering in my ear as the leaves
around my feet turn up at their edges like old
hair, rust, brittle, drop. There's a gloss
on the air, and the voice is seductive, and the sun's low
and hot but the day's cool, like when a tap
can't mix, and you burn your hand, and the voice
murmurs, I told you so, desultory. Along the canal
bikes weave a plaited path over the top
of yesterday's plaited path, and the day-before-that's;
all the bike paths jostle in time with the paths
woven by bargemen hauling lengths of rope,
real rope - this has been going on for two hundred years
I don't suppose we ever get to the end,
the voice suggests, we only join the plait
In a different place. I sit. Opposite,
on the bank, a weeping willow drifts its fingers
in the water by a warehouse (boarded-up). This time of year
anything can happen; nature starts to slip,
tired and seen-it-all; and the voice is saying:
it's the same every year, but every year is later;
look while you can
I lean on the wall by a lock-keeper's cottage
nobody uses, with metal windows. A barge
goes through, its radio blaring old tunes
I'd half forgotten but now remember the words of.
Water rushes through with a waterfall-gush
that drowns the sound from the park, and I watch,
and a mother coot hoots to her grown chicks, and they cheep back,
and the water fans out behind them, carrying sky,
glassy and thick, blue and black
There's a shift in the dirt ahead, a glint of coin -
no, a blank-faced washer hidden by leaves on the path,
which I pick up and hold.
It's warm and dull and lifeless in my hand.
A gull flies low over willow. The washer flies
into its reflection, and ripples move out:
away, away, away, the whisper goes,
and a bike dings and the lock's pulled closed,
and the water where it ripples is green on black,
folding towards the path where I stand and watch
I picture your hands sheathed
In their translucent latex skin.
Conjurers of energy, they coax it
From where it was hiding or locked in.
I can see your arms flexing, quietly working needles
Far thinner than those they use
To knit the thinnest lace
Into the places where things happen
So intimate with so many people,
Like a puppeteer or Western Union worker,
Those who deal in balance, crossed wires.
What things you see! You know about freckles,
Cellulite, marks from zips and spots, moles with hairs,
Those dark channels that show themselves in blemishes,
Roseate patches, smells, stiffness.
You know these things and then go home, drink tea;
Call your girlfriend; read
Your tiny intakes of breath
Barely flutter the dust on the sheet.
A series of concentrations that zero slowly in,
Your fingers move with infinitesimal flashes,
Adding wires to wires, and wires accumulate which weave through air
As if they were antennae, catching currents
From under reddened skin
You barely breathe. Your client barely breathes.
Palms up, or palm to palm, a span
Of nothing in the world, your client waits:
So much stillness in a forest of throughfares.
You tell me that you can't cure a person.
You can only offer them that slim route
To open onto, teased out into your hands
You told me the universe is doing something,
I forget what: expanding or flapping
in the wind or something - no matter which,
it's only one infinitely possible universe.
Its only ours and imperfect anyway.
Somewhere somebody else's universe
is either expanding, its particles drawing strangely
away from one another as if in horror but still,
I suppose, part of the pack -
or even shrinking (did we consider that?)
which would be caused by the atoms huddling
close for warmth or comfort
against that flapping wind or something;
rubbing together, the friction,
the blanket of static, creating our electric
storms and other interesting diversions.
The universes are both
unending and infinitesimal. Some say
they're parallel while others talk of layering.
Oh, the layered universes - I picture them
piled high like feather beds, the feathers inside them
brushing across each other or something
The sun's two orbits
We didn't know we would each have our own,
but when we spoke about it on the phone
you merely remarked - it's cold, isn't it, the snow -
and I realised I was living in your winter
No: though this is, I do believe, your winter
we haven't really talked on any phone;
we're simply suns shining on the same planet,
and because it is your evening it's my morning
No: we're planets circling the same masculine sun,
electromagnetically claiming opposite orbits;
and simply: in your winter it's my summer,
though sometimes a stray flake drifts onto my moon
Our moons must regulate the ebb and flow,
the watery content of this adultery:
two small mineral lumps drawn around and around,
ruled by a sun, a bed, a telephone