When you write
When you write, you always ask me how I am.
It would only exasperate you to iterate
there’s so little of me able to be anything
outside of the huge hole crammed
with the lack of you, its palimpsest of sepia
photographs peeling from the walls, fogged
windows letting in old light, a once fabulous
carpet scuffed by long-ago dancing,
from somewhere adjacent the faint throb
of Barbara crooning Dis, quand reviendras tu?
We both know the answer to that. There’s
suffiency, besides, in living for an absence.
Take my arm, darling, let’s stroll on again,
out into the sunshine, just the one of us.
How, within words, to set free
Mondrian’s skeletal tree?
Strip off the wind-fingered leaves,
the backdrop fading to Arnhem,
refine the treeness of the tree . . .
The all-but-abstract poem:
how boring would that be?
Better, surely, to abjure
isness altogether. Convey
the accidental contour
of a yellowed top leaf, about
to be dislodged (it will stick
grittily to his shoe all the way
home to Winterswijk),
the faintly undulating landschap,
untroubled by hills or people,
rolled out like an Aubusson
(faded colours and autre-siècle
grandeur): you can just discern,
eyestrainingly far off, the sun
even now catching a steeple.
I could not possibly love you more than I do.
There’s just no more room in my put-upon heart
that booms like a cross-channel gun in World War II
every time our eyes lock, whenever we meet, or part.
No amount of taking-in-hand can make me construe
or reorder your virtues in some other way:
you match exactly my blueprint of the ideal you;
every inch of you was made by God on a good day.
Hard though I try, I can’t get you to quit my dreams…
OK, that ‘hard’ is a lie – and the trying too!
Truth is, you’re welcome to trample my best laid schemes,
repaint my life’s furniture – or me, through and through –
if, next time you’re by, you’ll kick off your shoes and stay.