Sport 24: Summer 2000
The Spirit of the Staircase
In our game of flight, half-way down
was as near mid-air as it got: a point
of no return we'd fling ourselves at
over and over, riding pillows or trays.
We were quick to smooth the edge
of each step, grinding the carpet
to glass on which we'd lose our grip.
The new stairs were our new toy,
the descent to an odd extension,
our four new rooms at flood level
in the sunken garden—a wing
dislocated from a hive. Young bees
with soft stripes and borderless nights,
we'd so far been squared away
in a twin-set of bunkbeds, so tight-knit,
my brother and I once woke up finishing
a conversation begun in a dream.
It had been the simplest exchange,
one I'd give much to return to:
the greetings of shadows, unsurprised
at having met beneath the trees
and happy to set off again, alone,
back into the dark.
The Last Postcard
I want to give you something as complete
as this house without doors or windows.
It swarms in its rectangle,
as busy and inward as an ant hill.
It simmers beneath three chimneys
that are themselves just puffs of smoke,
of frail but conclusive activity.
The red house stands on a green line
that could be grass or a thickening pool.
It widens a little to the left
as if growing or going somewhere.
As for the yellow fence or field,
we could climb or walk it,
or take the road that passes through
in a sweep of black, oblivious.
This summer, the years are lining up
like the edge of the world.
All the weight is behind us,
behind the house,
where a strand of white runs into blue,
erupting with lighter and darker blues
that accumulate, rise and curl
into cloud, mountain, water
about to tip the picture over.
Think of this as the long view,
a resettlement of colour into light.
Without doors or windows.
Like this red house, where I wish you.
After a night in the cellar
Goethe returned to with Faust,
I am up in the air again,
cumulo-cirrus, thin ice, a voice
that is crushing and reasonable:
Your little life…
We fly over a river,
part frozen, part cracking up
at the end of a beautiful winter:
a three-month blinding heaven
that will leave its smallprint
and otherwise nothing on earth.