Outline

A long time ago – so long that he had forgotten the author’s name – he read some memorable lines in a story about a man who is trying to ­translate another story, by a much more famous author. In these lines – which, my neighbour said, he still remembers to this day – the translator says that a ­sentence is born into this world neither good nor bad, and that to ­establish its character is a question of the subtlest possible adjustments, a process of intuition to which exaggeration and force are fatal. Those lines concerned the art of writing, but looking around himself in early middle-age my neighbour began to see that they applied just as much to the art of living. Everywhere he looked he saw people as it were ruined by the extremity of their own experiences

– from, Outline by Rachel Cusk

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I want those clouds repealed,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?