A Tree Falls
I often wonder how Daphne felt
the moment she started changing
into the laurel
like when you were a child
and your body constantly
fought against itself to grow
I can imagine
Daphne’s toes stretching into roots
leaves springing from her ears
skin hardening into
a rough bark
her eyes forming into knots
her twisting torso
as she looked back
for the last time
at the moving world
before being fixed to her spot
unable to move except for the wind through
through the canopy of her tree-hair
and only if the Gods willed it
and sometimes the rain falling
staining the dark bark of her skin.
Maybe Eliot had her in mind
when he wrote that line
“what branches grow out of this stony rubbish?”
But Eliot too left his wife abandoned.
And did he place her on a mountaintop
looking towards home tormented
or deep in a valley next to a singing
river with Peneus scolding her
Apollo staring mouthwatering
for what could have been
and I wonder if she ever had the chance
she’d rather stay like that
than be turned back into flesh
not that she ever had any say
in the matter.
The Revelation Myth
When I return, after a long, forced exile, entering into the silence just after the storm. When I can splinter with my fingers the woodworm eaten ark laying in pieces in the street, where once as kids we fought together until the cleaved rib gave birth to our division; after all this, I’ll tell them, finally, what I’ve seen.
I’ll tell them how they set fires to deserts, razed mountains, bore holes through the sun. How boats with hidden eyes crossed horizons and tore through wave-breaks, hulls cringing, heave-ho and how they rounded the earth, tied chains to its circumference, packaged it up, boxed it, sectioned it, suffocated it, diminished it. And where their eyes were once are now gold pieces blinking in the light of dead stars a thousand, two thousand years old.
An eclipse of seagulls strain their wings against a late-summer sunset. A cascade of palm trees, a drowned oasis, a bent figure that appears, briefly, on the crest of a dune, against the sun outlining a crucifixion in silhouette. A murder of crows; a discarded, blood-smeared dagger partially obscured in the shifting sands like the mute Sphinx, like the pyramids at Giza that keep all the secrets we will never discover.
And I will tell them of the end first.
But I know they will not listen, not knowing in which direction to pray like a cracked-faced compass blind to its points. In the aftermath I lay in an empty room somewhere. Deep in the bellows of the house, a clock strikes midnight. A floorboard creaks underfoot. A man clears his throat. I wait for the handle to turn but only the broken spine of silence seeps under the door; for I know this to be impossible, for everyone is now gone. This many-roomed mansion fallen into disrepair, a dilapidated delirium of twisted shape and shadow.
The jaundiced skin of these walls I could slice with my sins. The moon feeds through its pale light and I write these final words in the blemished blue haze, knowing I shall never return, now that the sun is no longer so recognisable, nor so extraordinary.
And if I have one last wish, I would ask you to find a breach in the wall and to take me through to where the wind lives. Promise, you will take me to where the wind lives.