I Think of You and Think of Skin
I think of you and think of skin –
its soft stretch, ways it may fold, or be pressed,
occasionally tear. How it absorbs the fix it’s in,
ends up not innocent, unkissed, yet simple in its rest -
your father’s work, to expose such by the sun,
harried and tawed and dressed for the intent
of its disguise with musks and roses. For you, years gone,
I’m pale now, peeled, unwritten-on, a reproach unmeant -
white widow in my quilled intransigence, a swan
alone. Days such as these, late summer of my life,
I wonder at this want to turn a yearling’s tongue
to subtleties so hollow, telling tender lies –
those nights you travelled me with words, blood-nibbed
and burning, tell me I was your first, flawed, outlawed script.
John Shakespeare, William’s father, was a ‘whyttawer’ ( worker in white leather)
who made gloves from calf, kid, lamb and rabbit skins so fine they were almost translucent. He might spend up to a year preparing the hides before beginning his work. The sonnet is in Anne Hathaway’s voice.
At Chios, Abandoned Leprosarium
In another life I lived
somewhere like this:
the white stones on the path
eyeless as birds’ eggs,
sweet airs of sea and pinewoods,
courtyards of window shutters and shade.
Quiet as if only a moment since
children, playing, had been called in.
There was love here, companionship,
gold charred slowly into flesh. No need
for hiding from us hidden. But now careless light
From room to room unrolled mattresses,
snowstorms of ceiling plaster, children’s notebooks
bleached bare by sun by rain
shun me and I am shamed.
Light me a candle, St Lazarus, as if
your lipless kiss
might warm these past lives
that linger, frost or smoke beyond the clearing.