Although we may have bolted from that sad cliff
of our imminent decline, we are not Paula Radcliffe.
And though we may have startled
at the starting pistol,
Two rubber bullets stand on the shelf,
from Bloody Sunday - mounted in silver,
space rockets docked and ready to go off;
like the Sky Ray Lolly that crimsons your lips
when the orange Quencher your brother gets
attracts a wasp that stings him on the tongue.
‘Tongue' is what they call the Irish language,
‘native tongue' you're learning at school.
Kathleen is sent home from the Gaeltacht
for speaking English, and it's there
at the Gaeltacht, ambling back
along country roads in pure darkness
that a boy from Dublin
talks his tongue right into your mouth,
holds you closely in the dark and calls it
French kissing (he says this in English).
I stepped from my skis and stumbled in, like childhood,
knee deep, waist deep, chest deep, falling
for the sake of being caught
in its grip.
It was crisp and strangely dry and I thought: I could drop
here and sleep in my own shape, happily,
as the hare fits
to its form.
I could lie undiscovered like a fossil in a rock
until a hammer's gentle knock might
split it open; warm
in a wordless place (the snowfall's ample increase),
and finally drift into the dream of white
from which there is no
I placed myself in that cold case like an instrument into velvet
This business of driving
reminds us of our fathers.
The low purr of fifth gear,
the sharp fumes, the biscuity
interior - has brought them,
And has brought us, two
women in our thirties,
to this strange pass,
a car wash in Belfast;
where we've puzzled
and opted for ‘Executive
detergent) and have minded
the instructions to wind up
our windows and sit
tight when the red light
shows, and find ourselves
delighted by a wholly
of soap suds pouring, no,
cascading in velvety waves.
And when spinning blue brushes
of implausible dimensions
are approaching the vehicle
from all directions,
what can we do
but engage in a kiss
in a world where to do so
can still stop the traffic.
And then to the rinse,
and in view once again
of incurious motorists
idling on the forecourt,
we are polished and finished
and (following instructions)
start the ignition (which
reminds us of our fathers)
and get into gear
and we're off
at the green light.
I trapped a spider in a glass,
a fine-blown wineglass.
It shut around him, silently.
He stood still, a small wheel
of intricate suspension, cap
at the hub of his eight spokes,
inked eyes on stalks; alert,
sensing a difference.
I meant to let him go
but still he taps against the glass
all Marcel Marceau
in the wall that is there but not there,
a circumstance I know.