Light divides, sips the floor and bends
back on the windows of The Ship Inn. I feel
it trace my neck as I lean on the rail—almost
warmth as it passes me by, skimming
tiles to meet with his face. The lighthouse
has a small alcove at its base—a simple
stone wall on two sides, hip high. We crushed
down the tall grass until a cushion of green
held our weight, leaned on limestone
and watched the giantís torch beam
across cliff and ocean. We talked
about how we would follow the wide tail
of light as it faded far out to sea.
We would keep going until we had traveled
over the tip of hillsides to find ourselves
sitting there, still watching.
We kept our promises, journeyed
through deep, red valleys, across chalk cliffs
and salt. Floated like gulls—carefree,
taking fish from rivers as sun dipped beyond
the crevice of mountains and took us to bed
under canvas and tangled branches.
We saw the world as our garden, but
separately—at different times and
with other people. I cannot think
why he never risked my smile, or why
I never laid fingers on his mouth. A mouth
he now holds against creases, ten years
tired, still beautiful, as he sits alone
at his table with the lighthouse blinking
across his face. I step from the rail,
walk along the valley road, follow another
beam of light stretching from a giant.
I bought a carving this hot afternoon—
rabbits underground in the cool
with ash roots. A hideaway.
I watch them curl in darkness
closer to her. Warm bodies
breathing a slow pulse. Above,
I am walking oblivious. White skin
is all that I am in daylight. No earth
pigment. I will sit beside bark, lean
my head far back, and up
through branches I will see her
voice air through a flicker of leaves.
I shape my limbs like years
engraved inside the stem—
a circle bronzing, a clandestine.
Bells send time onto the hillside after me.
It carries on the wind like a deep-throated crow,
presses silence away from the spire and cottages.
Weaving between morningís hawthorn and trees
as I sit here on a fallen birch. Icicles sway
on the firs. A hundred colours of sky
spill through glassy prisms, decorate this eiderdown
of snow beneath my feet. As each light reflects
another bird searches the woods.
He has sent them,
released their coiled wings from a cage
of fingers. Little black swells that grow
the closer they come. This man in his tower, pulling firm
on the ropes, is masterful—cracking sky like a pale
blue shell, pushing his shackle of beaks through.
Their caws will find me. Rough twines of string
under his hands are estuaries I reveal
as I brush the frosted bark. These tangle of rivers,
aged and earthy, lead back to him. I taste them
in the air like the bread he broke on my tongue—
dry and clean, as the villagers lit a bonfire
in the Square. I heard them singing
as we spoke in the annexe. I told him the wax
on the candle was me—each time he burned
the wick, my blood coursed the sides, over his table.
He drew warmth into a hungry mouth, tried to catch
the perfumed curl of smoke leaving
and pinched out the flame. I remember his body
moving across floorboards to find me, the same way
he searches now—desperate and wanting. He calls
through this stillness of winter, but I will not go.
© E.V. Brooks
Loch Raven Review Fall 2005 Vol. I, No. 1
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