i.m. A. C.
Freckles, a white school shirt,
your flushes of annoyance –
were we friends?
The sun that killed you
makes only the present real
(I suppose that’s why it ravished you,
but it’s three decades
since our troubled alliance.
You were impatient
with my inconsequence,
and for the five years
we sat side by side
believed I was sacrificing thought
Of course I was.
Still, you were right and wrong –
applause acts like love
but music’s a discipline
pure and impersonal as calculus…
For years we made a reluctant pair,
and it occurred to neither of us
to articulate the grace we found in form
or in the release it offered, to something promised –
in fact, our selves –
that seemed real and pressing as an odour
in those days
when I misread your passion –
not realising maths
rises to its occasions
but runs deep through the mind
like winterbournes, which we learnt
were local as limestone.
I hear it now in your obituary.
But you know this –
you’ve gone ahead and know everything.
A Second Glance
Evening, you bring back everything the bright dawn scattered.
Call it what you like –
call it a symphony or intelligent design –
these monumental trees,
the light silvering a pewter sea,
One or many, moving against each other,
they make a harmony of purpose
in broad-brush light
and the eye hardly picks-up tone
Rain skirrs the window,
sudden as a half-forgotten fear
or that trace of a dream
in which your failures return,
Beyond its veil
by millions of droplets
into something light and shuddering
which you could call necessary. This flux.
It marks the start of autumn,
season of ghosts
and of familiars.
To call them home
you must turn –
the way shadows turn
at the feet of a table
placed on a hot stone terrace
above some valley
where everything seems unmarked,
To hesitate here
like a creature on some threshold –
dusk, or autumn –
is to be merely human, afraid
of how light dims. Though that,
too, is beautiful.