On the Potential Uses of Detail

Cubes of colour borrowed from a bottle of underwater blue
(its two papery hydrangea braced for light), and a toy, white
-stockinged soldier in a case. On the painted mantelpiece,
the angle of the candlestick to the carriage-clock is like
music on pause while someone, (not me), steps out
of the room to change into last night's clothes.

The mirror is talking back to its pooled ghosts, reminding
them, I take it, that good luck is the absence of bad, much
of the time. My eyes, my tongue, are listening for a scheme
to reveal itself, a detail to prove the truth of it, a key
placed underneath the hearth by a hand in darkness too.

By which time, the varnish will be dry on another hour.
To the vermillion couch will fall the setting of the tone
so the composed room may give up on interpreting itself.
Through the window to the right, a way will be found
to paint ardour and rote as thin light on playing fields;

for the hedge to heed the barking dog, for a woman on a bike
to be made to think, I am of the world. This might as well be
where things settle, this where I am, this willing my heart
to keep time with the dark inside the drawer of the realistic
writing desk; with under the antique lid of the ring-box;
with every imaginable facet of the withheld story there.

You, the Road, the Sea

Away, you catalogued the open road
reading in every advance or retreat,
a metaphor for what the years, the tired
(your emphasis) had been through.

The road, you said, knows an empty promise
when it sees one; makes the rules, insofar
as it can, mindful always of other roads
more innocent and less arduous than it.

The road, you thought, intuits a tiny part
of every journey made thereon. Never the return
nor the serviceable errand, never the routine
assignation, but the truest part, (predictably),

the core
. This is the road, according to you,
that thinks of itself as a photograph
of a single colour with no darkness,
no give
, in it. That wants to cup silence

in the gaps between immanence
and your present tense. That acts
like a mirror between two white walls,
angled to reflect a simple version of itself.

At home, you turned your back on it,
learned to think of it as ligature to every
self-inflicted wound. This you said,
in all seriousness, to me.

Now you're given to the sea, to the
discernment of refrains, of coming and going;
music occurring between. Apparently,
there are photographs to prove it.

One from cliffs, one of spindrift, one of light cells
on sea skin. And one of a window left open
(you claim), by a riptide making inroads in your mind.
I say I doubt it, leaving you to produce

your shoebox-full of archived love-affairs,
to lay out on the coverlet your dictionary entries
glossing the meaning of love. Here, you tell me:
see for yourself. There are printed emails, ticket stubs,

directions to a three-word placename in not at all
your hand. Then, with conviction, a nautilus shell
and a piece of driftwood shaped, for my good,
over those after
years, you say, as a whitened 'Y'.


The Garden as Music and Silence

Only a roofline tin whistle
practising 'The Parting Glass'
construes the gap
between lupin and rose
as possible held breath.

Inside of which
it falls to me to imagine
the blue of cornflowers
has knowledge
of gothic windows
and tapestried plainsong.

Also, that Tuesday's red geraniums
might have something to say
about avowal

and the poppy seedheads
something about

they learn
to keep
to themselves.

The Garden in Sentiment

Because she picked for him
one bud of Albertine rose,

laced it through his work-suit lapel
and straight-pinned the stem behind;

because he watched her do it,
kissed her forehead

then kissed her hand;
and because I watched them

from the first of summer,
one June, lives ago,

I keep no Albertine in my garden.
There is no need of it.

     Vona Groarke 2012