Holding the wand as a depiction
Of a witch in a woodcarving, you light
The incense. And already the spell
Is set: casting itself over
Surfaces, rising to the height
Of a swirling ceiling, both
Visible and invisible.
It’s the taste in the air which
Truly does it, honeysuckle
Sweet, smoke in softened shadow,
Embers kissed upon spiced wood.
Your touch is summer. Our knowing silences
Are much like murmurs of rolling, far-off seas.
We see the world in each other’s sunglasses.
I feel sand, impatient between my toes,
Tactility to the touch: even our sky
Is an impossible, imaginary blue.
Do you see too the vastness of the bay
Waiting there, a little way below?
Every day is our first, in a foreign
Land, saved preciously for ourselves,
Younger than we ever remember being,
As fresh as water, and as impetuous:
And wherever we go I picture us
As two boys, racing headlong for the waves.
For Blair. Not long now until the beach, my darling. Not long now.
Somewhere outside, the sound of a stationary car
Waits. Lamplight stains the curtains, cannot
Light the room: within, the seconds eke
Like rolling a cigarette, rolling a cigarette,
Saying how quiet it is. You almost dared
To say it was him: but that would be akin
To firing first, raising the alarm;
Pebbles on the dark surface. Better not
Say, that he’s come for his kid. Better not
Let the dread turn real, and beat on the door.
The station’s so close, how could it take
Them so long to help, to cross one breath of night?
To ward him off, whether present or otherwise.
Meanwhile we wait, you hold your baby like
Your final minute, hour, day: as all the while
The night rolls on, immeasurable, quiet.
Based on a personal experience. A relative of mine had ended an abusive and harmful relationship with her partner, the father of her child. One evening she called us, anticipating that he would arrive soon to do something despicable. Holding up that night in her flat, waiting for the storm to break, we found humour when we could – likening the situation to Helm’s Deep – but it stirred a number of dormant childhood memories for me, as well. She and her son are now safe, happy, healthy and well, and are tremendously and entirely loved.
Time for another “Song to be massacred to in a film.”
The good thing about this number is its playful self-awareness. Lyrically it has charming little touches – “Move your hips like battleships” – while the driving rhythm powers on. It’s a play on red-necks, twitchy, white net curtains, green lawns and blue blood, all petty conservatism embroiled together in joyous contempt.
Perfect for a Chainsaw Massacre credit sequence. Or a scene where, finally, the neighbourhood cult starts to make motions towards the inevitable human sacrifice.
But also, if I absolutely had to be hacked to death in a mid-Western outhouse in the middle of nowhere, to have it all over with to this record would be right up there as one of my final requests.
Make raiments of linen: drape me in
A summer’s suit, lower me
On a canvas of shade and air.
Make garlands, weaved from sleep.
Prepare a shawl of leaves
Dappled in wind. I will wear
A wide-brimmed hat, keep a length
Of white, a glimpse of blue,
Seen from below: and I will
Take a cool long glass of water,
Make it mine, and feel grass
Dreaming beneath me, still.
I fear no death: I only fear the dying.
Dry bones no longer suffer from the thirst.
Once gone, there is no lonely fear of going:
I dread the rot, and not the waiting earth.
Waiting as an untouched instrument,
Tempted to life,
To the prime temperament, living ever through us
Vital as a sign:
For fire to course through fragile filaments
Heating with light.
Even stood by me, I feel the stimulus:
You can feel my colours, shine.
For Blair. I can spend whole days so devoted to work, writing or sheer fatigue – yes, days devoted to fatigue – that I can become an inanimate instrument. The system is functional, perhaps, but a lifeless engine.
But somewhere in my wiring, in my design, there are heat sensors, coloured lights, crystalline displays. Thermochromic patterns and lights wake up, changed by your presence and warmth. Thank you for recharging me, and thank you for letting me shine.