Cold & Next, please
by Alan Baker
[ poetry - june 08 ]
He was no relation,
but closest kin, and cold,
appearing in places
known to me, but paled,
as things are paled by passage,
cryptically, and wild.
Skies can tell us much
they say, and earth contains
all the songs and stories.
When some will come, or won't
or insist on coming
only at night, only
in dreams, then that's a sign.
The shifting stair can cause
disequilibrium, and bring
footsteps at dawn, by windows
open to allow
the cooling breeze, the scent
of morning, the sound
of cars, of trees, a passer-by,
no relation, but closest
kin, and wild, seen
in places, streets, in fields
known to me, and wild.
It seems like only yesterday, but already it's today;
feeling my way across the car park to a place in the sun,
learning the ABCs of self-reliance and signing up to the charter
guaranteeing safe passage through suburbia
while summers accumulate a residue of events
like queuing for the bathroom while the clock ticks across the hall
through the dining room and out over the lawn
to early morning liquid call of house martins, circling.
Listen to their calls, brought all the way from southern Africa.
What do they mean? The TV in another room explains
the structure of DNA or how to boil an egg. Listen
to those competing dialects, try them for free,
not one of them remains what it was yesterday.
We are what we say we are, and sometimes not; because even pine kitchens
and Everybody Loves a Bargain can underplay the weather
and the operations of Fate. I think about this as I watch the martins
unwind the summer with studied imprecision, while the sky,
empty of tables and wine glasses, presents an unambivalent blue,
a ghost of blue, ambivalence of wings, song of morning,
The Most Moving Thing You'll Hear This Summer.
Sans serif and a little jaded, the alphabet declines to take
the long haul to green language, opting instead to speak
only of what it knows: views over the wooded valley,
and settlements down there, among the passing thoughts,
where words fall in an intellectual autumn, a swirl of constructed life.