from THE FAMILIAR DEAD

 

1
 
Transfigured already without
my noticing, the spaces
between the notes are no longer
 
lonely foreigners lurking
among orthodox ranks of people
along the thoroughfare's
 
busy length, but a movement
exact and entire as the widening
of your smile. This is scarcely news
 
yet I swerve speechless, without
a plan, bareheaded in the sun,
looking for a thing to love.
 
 
2
 
City ghosts shift ground,
eyes black with the mirth
of street children. You cannot quite
 
recognise the darkened version
of yourself in the window. Winding
streets have brought you here
 
and now you have forgotten
the way home. You sob
like a child to be allowed in.
 
Your shoulders merge with the canal
at your back. The familiar
dead refuse to leave.

 
 
3
 
You show me the lavish scrapbook
of your life: the journey to school,
the pain of being teased
 
or shut out in the playground,
the different roads you later took
which in the story
 
are still your kingdom.
Although your remaining chances
are few, you're leaving again
 
to trace long shadows back
to their vital source. Among the wreckage
you stay afloat without noticing.
 
 

 
The rain was the same in each city.
In my quest for comfort, I'd drained
my journey of all meaning.
 
Further down the street she asked
if I was a stranger. She'd mistaken me
for someone else. For 50 bucks
 
she offered a fleeting realm
of scent and warmth. At first
I was afraid to follow. I remember
 
her goose-pimpled skin, the stocking
with holes, the scattering
of dead matches by the bed.
 

5
 
In the hotel room by the railway line
a breeze blew the curtains inward,
shifting fragments of sky.
 
You lay on your stomach, head pressed
into the pillow, your dress bunched
over your thighs. Afterwards
 
we went through endless back streets
in search of what was missing.
The summer rain steamed.
 
You grew tearful at the barefooted
children who dropped stones
into the bowl of a blind man.

       Ian Seed 2007