After we had had supper together, she sat cross-legged on the carpet threading beads for a necklace, casually dressed in a heavy sweater and velvet corduroy trousers, with her hair falling loosely across her face and her feet bare.
“Delicious Huckleberry Finn!” I joked
And you moaned you were far too masculine
Dressed as a man, my angel, you were no less lovely
I dreamed we were the gentlemen of Verona
Duelling over our inamorata
You were that lady in her winding tower
O the anachronistic clocks strike the Cesarian hour
And the ovaries’ ivory locks spring open
In a shower of rust and a grunt of thunder
I too was Brutal
And the gates of your aura clashed shut
And imprisoned me there
And the green and golden fruit of your heart in the adamant and
bemusing maze's hub and centre
Falls with the quick clash of cut glass
The pendulum of you reproach descends as I indwell you
And the pudendulums doggedly grind like oldfangled and cumbersome
Victorian machinery
In the museums
Though the world has stopped the clocks crash on
Thrash gossip gallop on and anon in that tic-tac-polka
The trick trash gavotte of "I forget"
And "If only" and "Forever lonely"
Old ladies sitting out and knitting
Your face is Veronica's on the smogred clouds of dreams billowing
bravely
The Samson stare of sunken suns
The rancid glare of gutted cities
Whom the goddess condemned
To the sackcloth and ashes of savage industriousness
For impertinent unworthiness of the crimes she proposes
O my stepmother
Do not condemn or deprecate
Me, for disloyally loving the faults you hate
In yourself, unjustly
Living means choosing ways of dying
I have no wish to live alone
Sinking slowly into lumpy mouldering mattresses stuffed with white
feathers turning, with beerstains and age,
Yellow as autumn leaves or seas of rigid little flames to engulf me
My lips are furring over like pink blotting paper
Living is dying afresh with you
Though your warmth makes me immortal I know how you would kill
me
With your brutal integrity and perhaps the odd infidelity
If not with flesh then with its ambient air
And if there is one thing, my darling, that drives me into a fury till it
even crosses my mind that in some ineffable way I should
like to abduct from the world, even, despairingly, obliterate both of us, myself
first and you after,
It is that challenging regard of yours, slimy and contemptuous, flecked
with basalt, seaweed and cloudy ammonia, full of a salty
complicity, with which you invite a stranger to desire you,
For you are like a little boxer, my lady,
But like a child at Christmas you are always k.o.'d by hope
And you wrestle with yourself angelically
You are a brave little soldier
And whenever you sense his presence you immediately alert the police
to arrest your demon lover,
And by sheer persistence you are wasting him away
You have been diligent in seeking your Prince Charming
You have listened conscientiously to the toads creaking on the brinks
of pools in palace gardens
I have tried to help you translate
It is difficult to tell you why I love you when you do not admire
yourself
My love for you is a bridge arching into a yellow fog
Crying out half-forgotten
You are with me in my absence
I long for you who opened my eyes to close them, gently to everything
else
The empty beach of my heart is smoothed of all mementoes but
your footsteps
Like my heart's pitter-patter re-echoing
Hang like a chain of longings
Why must they always lead to the abandoned skiff and she shipped
oars?
These words are a pile of clothes neatly folded
I am swimming out to the edge of your absence.

Published in Southern Review, Vol. V, No. 1 - 1972