(after Edward Hirsch)
You didn’t know how I hid my head in darkness,
a child in the oak avoiding moonlight.
How I could touch with only closed curtains,
snuffed candle lingering in hair, in breath.
How your skin burnt through my sleep
so I woke all mornings on the boil, a little more
evaporated, a little less, than the day before.
My Father hung light all over my Mother
as though she was his hatstand. Across years
she was blinded to any other image;
my face was his and in her own
she saw only the places he had touched.
On our marriage when you took my chin in your hands
I knew, I could never hate myself so much,
nor love you enough, to become your mirror,
to see myself only through your fingertips.
When you played my name back into being
I remembered what it meant to want,
felt the drowning sound of longing
reborn at the back of my throat.
You peeled dark off me like autumn leaves
leaving me bare, blood already blistering,
the thick of you on the tip of my tongue,
Orpheus. Orpheus, the song of you
in my footsteps, almost enough
to dance me out of shadows.
Not quite enough to stop me
slipping your name from my lips,
the turn of your head, and the darkness.
1 February 2014