Your grief was a mixtape
I couldn’t understand:
There was a metallic hiss
in the background
whenever we tried to talk,
our lips wading
through air until we nearly
drowned. Some nights
I thought of pulling out
reams of tape from your mouth,
cutting it up into pieces
and rearranging them
into something that could fly
and never come back.
Christian Ward is a London-based poet. His work has appeared in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Diagram and Welter. A chapbook, Slippage, was released last year from Liverpool-based Erbacce Press.
You are far out,
still caught in the coils of a winter virus,
hands throbbing, breath puffing
in a dream of rubble.
Winter has been
a long blight on your skin,
ice burning the banana leaves
leaving them hanging like shredded paper.
Like your shredded soul
in the low light and cold,
like the familiar fog tackling
bricks and plaster from the foundations,
scraping the marrow day after day
with the patience
only still air has.
It’s before sleep then, in the night,
when you sense the first whispers,
wind gusts like elephant tusks
probing, searching along the walls
or stars’ crumbs breathing
while a shutter bangs,
rusty hinges giving off,
the dark concrete swarmed in
by the promise of light’s fingertips.
At dawn,light is suddenly large
as if it had been waiting
out there at sea,
arms crossed staring at the shore,
now it’s spreading its wings,
displaying on landing
long soft claws
on the silent miles
of brushing roof-tiles.
And the herring gull cackles,
the sun’s throat is in its howl
absorbed by light
like circles enlarging in a pond.
You get up on a cleaned landing strip
and see no fences,
just the horizon and a few shrubs,
thin buds like eyes shaking in the breeze,
you, as ever, have been lagging behind
but this stretch doesn’t mind,
empty like the palm of this hand.
A long walk on the way back,
downhill, after the glare of sun and snow
on the top, the heat of the sun
we loved at once and did not fear,
the heat in the chest at noon
in the stark steel blue.
A long walk back after the rest
on the top, where a snow block
crashed from the hut roof at our feet
leaving just a new
silence in the sun’s heat
filled later only by our steps,
precarious on the crests and cracks in the snow of the path
and the stones and sticks and mulch
going downhill, witnessing
unevenness and lastingness
in the earth’s will.
A staggering walk
on the way back downhill,
cheeks still flushed
from the heat of the sun, in the air
that has made us drunk.
Slow steps, imperfect
like the myriads
of jerks and shifts and touches of the days.
The dogs run and play
downhill, part of the scattering
stones and sticks, they let
themselves roll, teeth at one
with any windfall.
And a big sun-bleached stick keeps
falling and rolling on with us,
picked up and grasped by stubborn jaws
as if it wanted to become a token of a sort,
what we in our tiredness happen to gaze at
while it drops at our ankles, or we sense it
tumbling behind our heels, while we walk
on the long threads of land above
the thereafter of the plain,
a sun-bleached stick, honed
by air, saliva and teeth,
with this mouth at our side carrying it-
and a pair of brown eyes
and a wagging tail.
A token of a sort
that will rattle
in the ravines of memory.
Davide Trame is an Italian teacher of English. He was born and lives in Venice-Italy. He has been writing exclusively in English for twenty years. His poems began appearing in journals since 1999. His poetry collection Re-emerging was published as a downloadable online book by www.gattopublishing.com.