Planet of the Apes

If there is a designated point at which return
becomes of no return, so far is how far

I am always beyond it.
We sit in the rain of your ancient hangover

and I tell you the story about my dead dad
who spent his sixteenth year digging a giant hole

in a field in Liverpool and never said why (perhaps)
…. I love you.

I love you in the jittering shade of a windmill.
I love you standing in the water wearing the river

like an invisible pair of shoes. I love you here
at the middle of your only life and almost gone

smoking beside your window, light drifting between us
like ghost sequins.

I’ve always never felt this way about anyone
but the way in which I’ve never felt about you

is a way of never feeling so new it’s somehow old
like a cave painting of a fax machine

or falling asleep in the attic of a spaceship.
You make me want to think of you in a sentence with me in it.

You make me want to find a collapsed mineshaft
I can call your name in while searching for you.

You make me want to tell you what you make me want
but what can I even say to you – riding a desk chair

through the afternoon like a patron saint
of remaindered office furniture.

I don’t know what it means
to walk each night into a field alone

and dig, until you are standing in a hole so deep
you cannot be seen above ground.

I don’t know what it means to fall asleep by your window
and wake, let’s say, with the illustrated guide to Planet of the Apes in my hand.

I don’t know what it means to wake each morning and love you
and say nothing, as if nothing

were honesty’s default, or maybe just a way
for me to avoid the stupid things I need to tell you like

looking at you is like looking at a beautiful person far away
through a telescope that makes you seem the size you almost are

which is something I mean but don’t understand
like the new hieroglyphs of songbrids

or how the world in which I am saying this to you
is slowly receding

that looking at you is like looking
backwards out the window of a slow-moving helicopter

into the nineteenth-century cornfield of your face
which my historical inaccuracy

has suddenly emptied of birds.
You make my life feel the size of itself.

You make my life a burning craft
on some distant and unintended hillside.

…. you are the pale green arm
of the Statue of Liberty

reaching up through miles of sand

 

The Durable Fire

Despite the shit we put each other through –
and even though the trap of your teeth
snapped at my throat as the withering flash
of your anger fired and fell again
and again and I bent my head down beneath
that bitter rain – still I felt
the days that lengthened with you more precisely
themselves than I had ever imagined.
Through the deep rage that distorted our bodies;
through hurt, betrayal, the difficult truths
in search of some myth that might prove more
durable to our selves than each other –
still you step to this page’s bare panopticon,
belovèd, contemptuous of ruin.

The Willow Bends

So long the dragonfly has risen from its deep,
the mouse from its labour, the vole from its sleep,
the girl from her texting, the worm from its sheep,
the king from his castle and the castle from its keep,

And I know what news you are bearing,
your sob at my ear wearing
the shape of her body in the earth’s cold springs –
but even there I hear a broken voice, singing

Peonies

In the room where evening comes on
and language loosens on the tip
of the tongue we tap into the sound
of its roots seeking the dark
and the song of the dark
with nothing to hold to but the flower
of the soul with its soul together
when you say something I don’t hear
looking for it in the brief pause
your words like water on petals
in the dark of the space that bends
back to what you were saying
the azure eye of it forever blossoming
in the low voice that love talks in

– Rachael Boast

Sorry for your loss

I don’t feel loss. Nothing is lost, you fools.
I’m only crying because this boat won’t stop.
I’m only sad because the running sea’s so deep.

I want those clouds repealed,
These stars rewound,
I want this ocean lit exclusively by hanging planets
Larger and better than moons.

Perhaps then we might strike land again,
And come ashore at Greenwich,
And go by Gipsy Hill, and Waterloo, and Lavenham,

Or walk the moat of Kentwell Hall together –
A willow, and a bench – see
The garden shrug the slow mist from her flank
Very late one summer afternoon, very long ago.

Tolstoy’s Dog

What is it about the lavender-grey dog
hanging around the men
playing with a piece of straw
as though it were a stick
while Moscow burns behind them?
What is it that makes her lie
across my mind as if she might be
what all those words were about?

MCDLXI

Every shadow has a shadow.
In the dapple a dark speckle, the meadow’s thirst.

Every sorrow has a sorrow,
a lessening lesson, a congealing ghost.

Density of loss;
a, ‘once was’

Grief not grudge. Extinction’s edge.
Last on the late last list.

There is a pang the weight of the sun’s fist.
There is a pang the weight of the sun’s fist

Special Water

Low tide, a boy picks up a stone
and puts it in his mouth; his father yells NO
and peels it out. This is special water

he says, gently shaking his
body. It may look pretty
but it’s very, very bad for you.

The dog doesn’t care, she prances
in the muck, then climbs in my lap
and licks. Some habits die hard, says her owner

Her wet black blunt smelling like heaven

Black Box

Every crashed relationship has its black box, the blow-
by-blow account of what went wrong and how,
the crescendo of mistakes that peaks, is for an instant
quiet on its crest of trauma, then drowns itself and us

in a cascade of static. The black box is what survives,
anthracite gleaming in the wreckage where, preserved in anger,
the voices that it holds replay their lifetime of last moments
and speak of how, until the very end, it might all have been

so different, and how, right from the start, we knew it never would