SKIN NEVER FORGETS
Brave it on the bus, dolled up
for first-time, easy-eye contact. Yes, it's you
sizzling. Any colour you fancy? The cold
has made my hands shaky, blurred
rather than blocky. I'm not unhappy
but I thought we were going to inch closer
like the large fly on the window.
It makes me
some kind of outside thing. The
travels south. We'll find out if the snow
is coming again, but you can't leave it
all white, the tone of sky the same
as the ground. Resist the porcelain doll
you meet between sheets, face propped up
so brightly. I don't know who you are,
page absorbing cloud. You wake up
in a random girl's bed. Fingers run along
a sparkling hairpiece sewn in lines
of dark thread. Southern dreams return
in the curling encouragement of the road.
What are you doing here, gazing?
OPENING THAT SELF
No crime to tattoo your buttocks. Rather
a way to convert the chronicle of life
into a narrative, or to make a bridge
to the 'not yet', to dismantle the stain
at the centre of your landscape. In the swathes
of its new language, when the rain comes
to wet us, I can call my body mine
with its flesh in the hollow of your heart.
But that doesn't give you carte blanche
to muscle in on what is closed and dark
like the core of some old dream. I can hardly
bear to look at you lying beside me now,
cornily pornographic, or to see the pirate
with his cutlass clear and indelible
digging into your cheek, as if it were your cheek.
The lack of them is forgiven.
Unlike spit, they hold
little light. Nothing left
but the dusk. The trouble
begins when the door
of the boarded shop
blows open onto the street
where we used to flaunt
in the sun. Yet however lost
you smile and touch
your scars. There is always
some way to understand:
we can see the fingers
themselves or the shape
of the spaces between them
shift while we wait to be shown
the way, our faces burnt
into the endless wind.
The stale-sweet smell, warmth
from the back of your neck.
I don't know how to give you
any peace. At the top of the stairs
you take my hand. I'm
not dead Ð
I'm here. This is the door
but it isn't open to strangers.
When I look back, it's like peeping
through a keyhole. The shirt
falls away from your
shoulders. You bend over me
until the room disappears.
What it leaves behind is something perfect.
It puts all our steps together along placeless borders.
The little dancer comes closer in short taps
growing louder. But where did you pick her up?
Here she is in the mirror behind us, full of story. Hours
go missing in passages like these. Her face is flushed
from warm voyages. But now a wound has opened
like a narrow door. We can only pass through
one at a time. Infinitesimal figures wave bright
little flags far up the road. I've been here
waiting. Not that anyone is asking me to. In the swift
air, I try to look back at the real thing
as well as its shadow. Because the road slopes
to the sky, because it is dawn, and because I'm the odd man out
who gets stuck on the steps and cries, haven't I a right
to grow tired as you enter, hair uncombed?
© Ian Seed