Peter Sirr

Two Poems

The Comeback

There I was
hunched over a canso
in the aparthotel,

the day grey,
the year unclear
and the bed empty.

A city again,
jackhammers and cranes,
the district

repeating itself,
rising from the mud
for the umpteenth time.

My love, I began,
what have I done
to wake up again?

From the tangle
of centuries
slipped out

to begin, set down
like a native
with someone’s language

in my mouth,
someone’s dismal sky
to look at.

Can I really own
these hands,
these eyes darting

from building to building,
face to face,
your absence

cunningly disguised
as a street in spate,
a bridge raised to let

alien futures through?
Not mine, surely,
any of it, who have seen

so many places,
such promising verandas,
vistas of intent,

fields of lavender and corn,
ecstasies of hawthorn
and autumn birches

and pitched
over rough seas
past stacked containers

into harbour after harbour.
My love, I began,
your absence is a tax

each journey pays.
With every mile
coins fly through my fingers,

the revenues of desire
heaped on a floor.

Did that work?

What do you think?
Stacked containers,

entering the city
on a river of names …
Orchards, dockyards,

desert fortresses in which
only fleetingly
you appeared,

long treks in parks,
by heron-swept waters.
There’s a place

I feast on
where your head
even still

turns slowly
in my direction.
You are about to speak,

your lips are moving
then I blink
and it’s somewhere else,

I’m looking
down the length
of a long room,

you swim
through a crowd
and the building

collapses: through a crack
in the pavement
we sink

to a woodland path,
impossible songs
distracting the leaves.

My love, I began,
there must have been a time
we called our own.

Must have been
an aeon for hands,
for tongues

fruitful and rapid,
for waking to
love’s old accords.

Silence. The crane
swings round.
Yellow hats, high-viz

vests. What began
in the orchard
arrives in the street,

what began as leaf
falls as dust,
what began as song

wakes as an argument
nailed to time,
what began as voice

freezes to edict.
Was there a day
neither of us moved?

What began in wool
is undone in satin,
where silk fell

has grown a hotel.
the nape of your neck

but a Ming curl
touches your cheek.
We rise together

to walk the dawn.
The centuries, as always,
swirl through the grasses.


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