Stride Magazine - www.stridemagazine.co.uk

 

THE RECKONING

So I keep saving the bees taken unawares by glass
Shrouding their music in a bundled dishtowel till I shake
It out outside and they float off over the fuchsia hedge:

So the moths that flutter up from curtainfolds and out
Of the sleeves of old sweaters are fingersnapped at
And become Ash Wednesday stains on my handskin:

So the snail is lifted from the sand, laid on wet grass:
So the yellow cat in my dream is stalked till it turns
And is a small woman in suede leaning into me: but

Who handles all this? Keeps the score? What end to it?





NOLI-ME-TANGERE IN SEPTEMBER

Touch-me-not
wherever I look its tiny orange cup and spur curling, or spitting its seed
If I happen to brush against its frail green stem while running myself into the ground here
Where the students have begun to saturate the space again, their ripe bodies shining
Out of every corner, travelling singly, doubly, or in packs, their youth a raw burn against
The season I feel in my depths: their arms, bare legs, the way like brazen water their slick
Shoulderblades and back muscles ripple, greased and made sleek by the clean sweat-film
That gleams there. Seeing them, I learn again that the cloud that is a lid on life is full
Of rifts of glowing light
, and can even lift to let through an eye-hooking slash of blue
Or two as a woman in a summer dress riding a bike will let the silk ride suddenly up
In no breeze but her own motion, and her thigh is alight there where your eyes are.





STARLINGS IN OCTOBER

Like sweet bells jangled in a minor key, the starlings make in the big sycamore
Their autumnal music. Invisible from down here, their throats are open
To the ripeness in the air, its mellow fruitfulness
and that slight musky edge 
Which may inflame them into this rhapsody of rapt cacophony, an annual tribal
Drunkenness of the larynx that won't stop rising and falling, improvising
This fleeting tune of theirs from one deep collective heart. Each year I hear
This crazy concert that goes on for days, as if the whole congregation has taken
Leave of its sober senses, taken its note and cue from some soul hymnal a choir
Of dark voices tuning up and turning to flame, a harvest of jagged orchard sounds
Saved from summer, pickled a little and offered up now while there's still time.





CANDY WRAPPERS

To gauge the scatter of reflected light, Bonnard pinned to the studio wall
Scraps of silver-paper sweet-wrappers. I imagine how his two eyes took
Light angling off that crinkled surface, how he sipped at it for some corner
Of shade between greens and violets, or for a grid of crisp yellows
Shaping the big window in which a mimosa launches the brain-levelling
Brightness of its own Bon jour!
or for the small thumbnail streaks with which
He painted his own bare torso and one scurfy triangle of his domed head (bald
As an Easter egg, tanned to shadow). Silver sweet-paper: its magpie glitter.
And how he wants it at the end in his flowering almond tree, seeing the green
At the bottom left is not as it should be, it needs yellow
. Then a friend's hand
Helping he touches and touches the spot, very gently, to glow: gold-yellow.





WALKING ON AIR

Gleaming mask of Pierrot a threequarter moon. That icy brow beaming in your window
White as a face scared to death and out on its own by moonlight. The water has become
One black shudder, the bushes a Who's there?
quaking. Gradual as first snow, shade
Is taking over and your thirst grows. There now, that biting sound a saw turning a fine
Live foot or two of the forest into a plank to put, unbeknownst, another of your eyes out. 

Shark-toothed, the imps of agitation are at it again mincing your breath till they leave
Little to string a word on. Walkers on air, are they, these two who try to keep balancing 
Their lives against God knows what? A shaft of sunlight falling across her brow? How
That hammershaft fits exactly the hollow of his hand? The swing of things he feels
Slowing down? Silence? That shiver coming over them before the screen turns black?


            Eamon Grennan 2003