I must quit sleeping in the afternoon.
I do it for my heart, but all too soon
my heart has called it off. It does not love me.
If it downed tools, there’d soon be nothing of me.
Its hammer-beat says you are, not I am.
It prints me off here like a telegram.
What do I say? How can the lonely word
know who has sent it out, or who has heard?
Long years since I came round in her womb
enough myself to know I was not home,
my dear sea up in arms at the wrong shore
and her loud heart like a landlord at the door.
Where are we now? What misdemeanour sealed
my transfer? Mother, why so far afield?
For months I’d moved across the open water
like a wheel under its skin, a frictionless
and by then almost wholly abstract matter
with nothing in my head beyond the bliss
of my own breaking, how the long foreshore
would hear my full confession, and I’d drain
into the shale till I was filtered pure.
There was no way to tell on that bare plain
but I felt my power run down with the miles
and by the time I saw the scattered sails,
the painted front and children on the pier
I was nothing but a fold in her blue gown
and knew I was already in the clear.
I hit the beach and swept away the town.
What is this dark and silent caravan
that being nowhere, neither comes nor goes;
that being never, has no hour or span;
of which we can say only that it flows?
How was it that this empty datastream,
this cache of dead light could so lose its way
it wandered back to feed on its own dream?
How did that dream grow to the waking day?
What is the sound that fades up from the hiss,
like a glass some random downdraught had set ringing,
now full of its only note, its lonely call,
drawing on its song to keep it singing?
When will the air stop breathing? Will it all
come to nothing, if nothing came to this?
The empty mind you finally display
ten weeks into the yogic agony
of your silent retreat, you will discover
in the latter stages of a gin hangover.
So too the self you slaughtered in the bliss
of her astonishing astonished kiss,
the loch in starlight or the late quartet
is what your dog knows as its waking state.
All I mean is soul just can’t allude
to that pretty trance you might know twice a year
when the ape is somehow home enough or mind
is lost enough for both to disappear,
but what it leaves unguarded and unblind.
Its holocaust. Its vast solicitude.
A Pocket Horizon
The idea, I guess, is on the kind of day
the vapours are sent down to blind and choke us
one still might gain some distance, much the way
this shotglass seems to give me a little focus
or this stone in my shoe some foothold on events.
Its disc of jet on three gold screws would do
for a doll’s house table at a doll’s house séance.
I’m trying to what exactly. Level with you?
Chin down on the bar-rail and one-eyed
to get it true and straight and down to scale.
But my red eye looms above its tiny tide
and my breath is screaming like a winter gale
I think there’s no one on the other side
O love where is my white or my black sail
Copyright © 2015 by Don Paterson