When You Go
When you go,
if you go,
And I should want to die,
there’s nothing I’d be saved by
more than the time
you fell asleep in my arms
in a trust so gentle
I let the darkening room
drink up the evening, till
rest, or the new rain
lightly roused you awake.
I asked if you heard the rain in your dream
and half dreaming still you only said, I love you.
When love comes late, but fated,
the very ground seems on fire with tongues of running time,
and conscious hearts are speaking
of the long vistas closed in clouds
by lonely waters, all goodbyes
where the swallow is a shadow
swooping back, like youth, to silence.
If all goodbyes could be drowned in one welcome,
and the pain of waiting be washed from a hundred street-corners,
and dry rebuffs and grey regrets, backs marching into rain
slip like a film from the soiled spirit made new –
I’d take that late gift, and those tongues
of fire would burn out in our
thankful fountains, to the sea.
I read this poem over more than a few times, being surprised by it again and again. Wanting to offer something small, delicious and sweet to someone during a busy afternoon, I sent the poem to someone in need of such a thing.
The sound of Catherine Wheel‘s “Delicious” doesn’t quite go with the flow of the poem. The imagery of the lyrics certainly does, though, which I suppose is why, for the second time in a week I thought of Catherine Wheel after many years of almost never thinking of them.
“You eat, you sleep, you breathe something delicious
You spill, you grip, you squeeze something delicious
You peel, you strip, you bleed something delicious”
Beyond which, Edwin Morgan, the poet, dedicated Glaswegian that he was, deserves to be everywhere.
The Apple’s Song
Tap me with your finger,
rub me with your sleeve,
hold me, sniff me, peel me
curling round and round
till I burst out white and cold
from my tight red coat
and tingle in your palm
as if I’d melt and breathe
a living pomander
waiting for the minute
of joy when you lift me
to your mouth and crush me
and in taste and fragrance
I race through your head
in my dizzy dissolve.
I sit in the bowl
in my cool corner
and watch you as you pass
smoothing your apron.
Are you thirsty yet?
My eyes are shining.
Memories of Glasgow…
No smoke without you, my fire.
After you left,
your cigarette glowed on in my ashtray
and sent up a long thread of such quiet grey
I smiled to wonder who would believe its signal
of so much love. One cigarette
in the non-smoker’s tray.
As the last spire
trembles up, a sudden draught
blows it winding into my face.
Is it smell, is it taste?
You are here again, and I am drunk on your tobacco lips.
Out with the light.
Let the smoke lie back in the dark.
Till I hear the very ash
sigh down among the flowers of brass
I’ll breathe, and long past midnight, your last kiss.