on the library steps

softly
softly the waves lap

you were waiting
on the library steps

when least expected
but not forgot

for whom I threw away the trinket
of great price

you hold it at your breast
forever

soft as water

hold the light

as I search the whole world over
for comfort

to comfort you have come

love quickening out of silence
to split wide open

and recover all that I am

one second

so long I have waited
listening for a footfall at the door

now in that very listening
am assured

that You have never left this house at all
for one second

but have in all this time
been overlooked

simply ignored

letter to none

I never wrote to you –
perhaps I should

love ties rope round
and then it pulls

leaves us stretching
like a kid under a tree

for one bright apple
nobody sees

I don’t like apples –
never did

don’t eat fruit much
and won’t until

sweet berries lean
towards my door

and that will happen
to me no more

Three Sea Tales

1. The Death of Gulls

Like hail they fell,
in numbers uncountable,
leaving no one left to wail but me,
Godless upon an iron sea.

After the storm I was cut adrift,
me a mid-shipman,
ten days out to sea,
and never a sight of land for me,
nor woman’s touch,
but her dark eyes
swam before me all the way
to the whirlpool at the end of days
where under a glowering sky,
still beardless,
I died the death of gulls.

This sea-tale I recount,
by way of settlement
to the God that has deserted me
this seventeenth day of May,
Seventeen hundred and fifty three.

Now the Devil take me.

2. The Last Island

The storm levelled the house
and I raised sail;
made for the last island of all.

Seven days have now passed,
my boat lies broken on the beach
and I lay dying of love.

In my own blood I write this scrawl
and face my God alone:
my maker,
and my unmaker,

Lord of the Last Island.

3. The Voyage Out

On the voyage out, we were becalmed
for seven days and nights,
one for each decade of an old soak’s life.
Untouched by either current or breeze,
by degrees, I grew mad
so that when the wind did whisper to me,
it was in sea dreams I could not read;
strange alphabet, strange tongue,
not known to me, or anyone,
hieroglyphs on the pavements of a seaside town,
out of season all year round.

And there I was delayed,
incanting, have remained,
casting back these stones into the sea,
words formed in extremity,
holding back the one thing I could read:
“Oh why hast Thou forsaken me?”