For Peter Huchel
Evening gone, lost in afternoon’s gullet.
The torn pages of a sky, grey slopes
folding through mottled fog, frail air thickened
by a cowardly light. Farms tread their lamps
into the meadow, blue ponds seethe with foam.
Tomorrow lies down low in the churchyard,
ice-scuffed branches separate dusk from dusk.
Pigeons clad the December eaves, ticks and feathers
smear Gethsemane’s bough. The window leaks
its ancient colour, eye glassy and harlequined
with lead. Dark leaves gather around a lone alder
blanketed by snow. Out among the reeling gulls
a tired bell rubs salt into the wind.
We turn away,
draw the curtains in the room, the cold world gone.
Bodies lost to one another’s heat, hands and mouths
settled in the hollows, in the soft pressures we call home.
Down in the sleep of shadowed cloth, the mark
of winter, rasped and burly at the throat,
shrivels into the smoothest ember of a voice.