We make love again after a long journey
Through the Sunday newspapers.
Our bed shakes with the crackle of news—
Observer, Tribune, Indo and Business Post.
How far apart we were
While gathering such news.
Our stories for each other went astray
Like colour supplements.
You’ve always been my favourite reading—
A columnist who covered all our love-life,
Mary Welch Hemingway of the heart.
See how copy-editing you makes me lyrical,
Changing all contents to listen to your report:
Not the knowledge but the colour,
Not the bare facts but the facts bare. And this:
Fade to advertisement, your voyager’s kiss.
ii. Your Ordinary Gesture
By the time I reach the kitchen full of the most ordinary longing;
Thinking how we might extract ourselves from this life,
How we might find a place together in an unfashionable county,
Like O….y, for example, or maybe the southern part of C….w—
Somewhere less complex than a busy city—where the new pups
And the three cats can wander freely. At this stage, if I could have
You and you only, I’d go on the roads. No question about it.
Come with me, girl. During the war I dreamt only of the two of us.
Thinking thus, I smelled your Dunns’ Brothers coffee brewing
And I caught you, before you became self-conscious, unselfconsciously
polishing your black shoes, dressed formally
For work. Let me tell you how that was, how perfect you looked.
You broke the blender
With too much spinning:
It sits on the draining-board
in shreds of afterthoughts
About doing dangerous things
With you: I saw the way
You force-fed it with
Oranges from Seville, you
As athletic and young
As any Crawford Art-school girl.
Where oranges sneezed for you
I make a simple, temporary bed,
A ledge where I drink the fresh juice
You made, that gulping treat;
Exhausted lamp in our ceiling,
Scattered rind of bedclothes.
iv. Your Silence
When the Italian novelist fell in love with your silence,
With the way you have of keeping things secret:
Well, that was the last straw. Unbearable love, that.
The way you un-gild the lily of yourself, the way
You hide a supreme gift like a child of countryfolk long ago
Running to hide some special gift in a countryside ditch:
That kind of reticence takes seven generations to speak—
So that when you turn to find an escape from praise,
When attention throws you, nearly, into a fit of rage,
I find you can be trapped more deeply in a husband’s arms,
Soothed with my well-practised lack of praise, never
Lauded too lavishly. Ah, how you hate the smoothness
Of praise and all of charm’s tiresome, inert complexities.
Clothed, unrivalled, secret, how Italian your gifts remain.
v. Watching the Olympics in a Maternity Hospital
Exhausted by the effort, you turn your head
To me and I, misinterpreting as usual,
Presume that you are in an ecstasy of motherhood—
A kind of reverse of the mother’s grief
In Synge’s Riders to the Sea,
A female version of those victorious English runners
In Chariots of Fire or, indeed, Ronny Delaney
Falling to his golden knees in Melbourne, 1956.
But as I wipe your marathon runner’s brow,
Your maternal face that has trained for this
For years, through coaches and relationships,
Sponsorships, partnerships, pre-nuptial jumps—
You explain in a whisper ‘It’s oxygen.
It’s a lack of oxygen. I need to sleep. Right now.’
A gentleman in a white coat taps my shoulder.
‘Here!’ says our Lord Killanin. ‘Here’s her gold.’
Beads of water fall from you
When you move between pine doors.
It is the hour after making love
And the house, with its kettle
Singing, its towel crumpled,
Allows in the orange juice of Sunday noon.
I think of the insufficient words
For this. Listen, words are hopeless right now,
Water clings to your beautiful self
The way we clung to our lives
Before we were strong enough to hold together
More than two metres apart. Showered woman,
The day glows like a young cigarette
Before us both. Your coffee is coming.