Mnemosyne

I

A flush of stardust
as night drains from horizons.

The moulting earth is a new expression
relumed in its nakedness, its
liquid fire, full
of roused seasons, waiting
to be born.

·

In Nitros, inhibitions are unhinged
and light slides into place like a bolt.

Knuckles of hills implode into valleys.
Our calloused skin
impaled, secreting time’s geography.
An evolution of vapours. Everything whispered
and gliding.

Teased through edges
purls of dust roil the river’s shallows: what they dance

is what they’ve heard.


II

Her web of leaves over wind-burned fields
ignites the gauze of autumn.

November. Cold night.
Mnemosyne wanders the foothills,
polished moonlight
dangles from wrists and ankles,
braided hair beating
in muffled chords.

Here, under a clotting dusk,
sleeping vines insinuate
festivals of wine –
where rainy nights, simmering
dishes of pearl-white rice in grape leaves,
dip into lemon broth
and stir a seduction.
Star-drenched nights. The waning.

Mnemosyne lingers a glance
to earth, to water, as if looking to drag in
the one she’s losing. The perforated air
licked by her tongue of sparks.

She says nothing. Instead,
as she raises bare hands
her bones rattle their burden: crossed arms
binding stooped shoulders:
the baggage she carries.

Her fear the same as her desire:
in name only
ticking the other direction.

With nowhere to hide.


III

In dreams she reaches for him constantly.

Through a groove in the moon-bed, tilting
her senses like sheared skin:
throbbing
with a bone’s phosphorescence.
A calcified passion fires out.
And the peculiar curl
of his wild black hair, barely glimpsed
minutes. She unravels
then rewinds: isolate,
veins snagging. She’s raw with faith. Fractioned.
Shaves the upper lip
of an intimate conversation
with mouthfuls of bottomless words: so close
his voice is
calling –

Her body, arched in response,
collapses on the verge.


IV

Sparks fling themselves into the air of Nitros.

A morning ray dashes off rooftops,
mingles trees in rows,
fig-skins of honey,
bands over bald hills. Splashed
by heat from the highlands,
black olives drip translucent
tablespoons of oil.
Near the riverbed of thick waters
Echo poses cries on scattered rocks
and waits
for the love wading towards her

and Psyche twists herself
into one more chance
by turning her second doubt
away. I took a deep breath.
I watched him.


His gaze sips skylines;
and birds blurred in the distance
are stunned: luminous clusters
beading his brow.

Approaching their own certainty,
his fingers stiffen as if spoons, ladling wind
from a rush of wind. Without a pause, he murmurs:
Experience wrung out of pores
blots the loneliness of all plotted fields.

Walks across boundaries. Grafted
to my skin, in tiny letters
his planes,
intersecting.
Even as I probe the way,
wavering in sudden moonlight,
scuffed by the braille of his destination, he strides on,
not looking back. Stabbing

a cigarette into his mouth,
he pummels shirt-pockets for a light,
bends as if to strike a match
and bursts into unmapped gesture –
A welling cry
breathless with leaping.

In urgent spin,
his body dancing.

And dancing. As if pulled
by the pitch
of a flight, where shoulder blades pivot
on an unharnessed will,
carving selves
from the struggle.
Oiled by dreaming.

Soon unbuttoning the secret paths,
where he clips threadbare weeds,
legs scissoring: we meet.
In our nakedness. With a quick toss,
our passions whisk
in the wind’s emulsion,
whipped into a peak.
I know all fields churn
by abscission: the amaranth
undying. Those parts of ourselves
we give
become our definition.
He says: Dislodge the stones.
He says: Uproot the entrenched boundaries.
He sways.
He buckles.

Birds like plucked arrows
near the riverbed of thick waters,
plummeting in sharp degrees.

His eyes span a window,
dilating hemispheres; I lean out and witness
night’s narrow ledge,
its blunt profile. In the kennel of a language
tongues are wagging, as voices
leak the meaning of desire.
When his sleeping lashes flutter
I’m snapped. Shuttered.

Each need absorbs the needy
and expands: air grazes the lung,
browses the menu of our wanting.
While we expire. Sealed
and scratching at tables for more.

Love, forgive me
if I refrain from comment.

My body’s trapped in the idea of you.


V

Mnemosyne wanders the foothills.
A furbished absence strays onto her path.

It’s his limbs she revisits,
captive and gnarled in twisting vines,
pruned by mid-winter’s slumber
and change; or when the same nightmares
snatch her from sleep through the black backdoor –
a scope of vaulted ceilings,
no walls or floors, her crazed senses
scoured by shadows, her body
swaddled in a crusty film,
hollow at the centre. The persistent smell
of burnt bread.

She combs plotted fields for his footprints
and bristles back to a frozen hour:
waiting. Once
upon a time, under
the stoked scrutiny of stars, in a dress
flecked by a full November moon,
perched on the stump of an abandoned story,
she repeatedly coiled the air
as if spooling love’s lost syllable:
translating his voice into eternity.

Her own voice forever after the past.


VI

The drifting winds pronounced my home
with the map sense of migrating birds
whose journey is nudged
by a nest’s vapours:
scent of pine, hum of winding rivers,
shrill sparkle of fledglings.
From its first moment the earth hooks muscle: reeling.

I didn’t deny you for another.
Not because of the fire you tempted
when your heated tongue
ironed out my fear as if a scar;
or the way our two bodies collided, accidental,
struck with awareness, only healing
as we swerved into desire. Maybe in time
our fused voices
would have polarized into a magnet’s perspectives.
Maybe I could have survived
the current’s field,
your arrival in the face of seasons.

The smudge of a single chrysanthemum
drew the field’s yellow smell to us. Beyond,
a range of grapes embroidering vines. You clutched my hand.
Our silver rings glinting. Listen.
Do you hear it?
Already
time pries your words
from my locked fingers.

Out of my centre
I wrench the history I bear.
Unearth our wintered skins.

Wiring veins into the breath of hedges,
I plot the distance between us.

The love you give me
I exhale

finding my own way back to you.


VII

Again they meet as if for the first time.
Recognize in each other
the unwritten story.

Summer. Ink-black night.
Here, the riverbed of thick waters
mirrors their twin intentions. He wonders
at the double-helixed light
that unzips
to catch them
in a conscious splash, urging his flesh
into a trinity. He listens
while the riverbed sighs,
waterlines out of focus.

Like any template, love is chiral:
escapes possession.
If one hand tacks down the other,
parts jut out: thumbs in opposite directions.
Side by side, love’s twin gestures
are confirmations,
alternating pace. She holds on

to this:
displaced from the past
he becomes one more stranger

hitching a ride home.

Her kind of love
a sacrifice: retrieving white pages

so he can body
out of loss.


VIII

Nitros is plagued by angel habits.
Leaving basement rooms, back alleys,
citizens climb their lives like a stairway,
reunite at the foothills as guests.
She’s been expecting them for years.
Knitting strands of sheer light,
doilies on a night table. With a sprinkle of stardust
she rubs their weariness away.
Stretching time like an elastic band.
Within a loop of wide white roads
she pumps the wheel of drooping hearts.

She pecks at skin with long fingers,
plucking desire as it shoots out of pores.
It nests like a hatching secret in her palms.
Lovers who don’t know where to begin,
who stutter across words slung like bridges
across the tips of slippery tongues,
swoop down into familiar conversations.
Cross lines at fate’s intersection.

When a child’s wheelchair idles the curb
an old man with grave eyes
exhumes hope as he greets her.
Patterns she cuts from her flaring skirt
hem in lost possibility.
Bundle up the skating son
who once sliced the pane of an icy river, as if streaking
across innocence
and into flood-lit experience –

The old man steers his vision,
skid marks hitting pavement.

The concrete splits like a seam.


IX

Mnemosyne wanders the foothills
and polished moonlight
swings in anticipation.

Memories pinched within her eyes
spout an impulse,
running a bath.

She plunges into the thick waters
her spreading fingers like an unclenched net,
full of open places. Time in diaphanous folds
clings like a wet skirt, as she skims
across curdled waves.

Beyond her body
the living wind reclaims itself: like a name

loved out loud.
A House of White Rooms

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