shell

May 27, 2008

We moved to the countryside. The nights were silent.
You dipped your hand in wine and coloured your belly.
We came, shivering. The moon was pale.
We took it in turns to talk to,
to caress. The moon was white.

Seasons shimmered. The telephone
began to look out of place, then later,
like a shell. No one came to stay.
Our house sank a little each day.

We covered it up with turf;
the foundations hit bedrock
and it stuck there like an egg in a pork pie,
and we were a raw yolk, viscous,
sloshing round in a bubble
as the crusted earth turned and we were rocked softly,
while everyone else was kneading and dying like flies in pastry.

The moon was the colour of buttercups,
jeweled fat by a cooker, cratered amber,
a wash of saffron ink on old canvas.

We had a window in our roof,
and we watched the moon for hours,
felt it dragging tides of our bloods,
imagined ourselves shrunk as small as cells,
ebbing and flowing with the circadian spin:
two happy, drowning voices,
conducted by a sweet, fat lunatic,
and we folded our selves into the fabric of the land like haiku.

We kept paying the line rental. One day,
we were phoned by a fax machine,
and it felt as if one of H.G. Wells’ tripods
had hovered above the window
and brushed its nasal death ray past our eyes.
Once we got over the shock
we tried to talk to the machine, we tried to explain
why we couldn’t come back,

as if we were Gaia talking to the human race
or as if we were love trying to apologise,
trying to explain why it hurt and what the easing of it was –

to a fax machine. And it listened carefully,
but we spoke the wrong language,
so it was frightened, and did not speak
or later relay our message to anyone of consequence.

So the days suffered like they always had, but more,
and that beautiful bastardbitch of a moon drew great tides of blood,
and waves crashed and threw up great gouts of it that splashed on our high window,
soaked the tiles and the wars went on and on and on

and no one told anyone;
no one told a soul
that you can only see what’s real once you realise you’re dreaming.
No one told a soul

or they screamed it from the rooftops
then the beacon hills. And maybe we did
and maybe our house never sank
and we died with you, as you, screaming for you,
as we pinched ourselves, each other,
harder and harder

to wake others up from their dreams,
to live in ours, which was not a dream –

and kept pinching till we were crabs
shuffling and duelling, shuffling and duelling,
shuffling and screaming for beheadings
as flimsily as we turned against the wind
to be spun and scattered like sycamore down
into blood and the dizziness of spirals.

So we never moved to the countryside;
we talked about it for a few months
but your tests kept showing negative.
I got worse and worse and the meds
just made me fat and slow witted.

But the wars were real
like nothing else. Unless pieces of shell.

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