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for Bernadette

Keep in
touch. If she is beautiful still
she won’t say
hello: she fell
into the world without
a tongue to confess as much
or more. Call it her original sin: silence
winding up ‘your’ day. But it’s how she keeps
faith with the non-place she came from: surely
a man can understand, a man can
weigh her heart against a feather
teasing air
northerly southerly easterly westerly


The knowledge of your origins consecrates her
body: your desire for her is
nostalgia for what’s beyond. When she
opens her lips the Four Winds
enter, charging her belly until she
splits like a mussel
dropped on the rocks by a black-backed gull:
one half is darker than Medea’s laugh, the other
shines like Beatrice’s eyes before the altar.


When she is dark she is beyond
comprehension: better to swear on water
or the sand it rearranges,
better to embrace a thorn-bush than to push
further into her confusion.
Exiled from irony (which exiles)
she does not want to choose
sea from sky, blood from seed: she believes
one belongs with the other, here with the beyond
she comes from. Touching nothing
she is keeping the quiet.

July–September 1995, Loburn


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