Swamp Meeting
Years later we meet in a house
where neither feel sure of conversation
            that can only drift
At first there is reluctance, we eye
the other's seriousness like birds
            in the snow, fratching
            over scraps.
Not so much absorbed in each other
as in ourselves, we argue. Too much
            and then, too little
            has changed.
Only the accusations of cruelty remain
the same. The tall trees are motionless
            in the dark, the waters
            of the garden quiet,
but the thrushes' fear of undercurrents
names this place. Marsh. Mire. Bog.
            We are certain only of this:
            after the pubs have closed
and the last train's been missed,
what's changed seems less important.
            Other involvements pale.
            The light fades.
In the morning, you talk of periods and trains,
of where you must be and where you must go.
            Even now, I need to know
            whether you'll look back
before the corner finally obscures you
from view, as I watch you hurrying away
            through the mud, hurrying
            through the dark mud.

A thought of your mouth overwhelmed me.
I imagine you undressing
at Cliffe High Street in an apartment
I will never see.
You ready yourself for bed,
a bed where I will never lie down with you.
Now you dream as you did years ago,
holding the keys to righteousness,
a kingdom I will never pass through again.
My heart is penitent, heavy as gold.
I imagine your cupid's mouth smouldering
in the night. I kiss your scarlet lips.

What is left when mouth no longer touches mouth
but the dumb recollection of kissing,
the implacable dream of sensuous longing?
Whatever it was to know such kindness
passes from the account of the self, as though
it was less than real, less than wholly human.
In less than a second, everything changes
and there is no more communion of the flesh.
Our hearts will not meet in some future place.
Nor will I marvel at your matchless thighs
or touch once more, your flawless skin -
the unblemished world I had become so fond of.
But at least for you and I, there is no treachery
involved in moving on, we elope
to disparate shores with only rapture in mind.
Although we now inhabit unfamiliar moons
we will remember what has passed from sight,
and each time we summon up the memory
it will change us over and over again;
in this way can we be renewed,
in this way can we begin to live over.

We are holding hands across the lake,
but the days are too long -
preventing any togetherness.
We are giants transforming the landscape
leaving nothing untouched
but togetherness escapes us.
Now you bow your head as if in prayer
and your giants' eyes evade me
as you traverse the stepping stones.
We have spent the summer like this,
hiding in lakes and forests
from the promises of a lifetime.
But the summer is gone and we are lost
in a debacle, a cruel fairy tale,
a past from which no one escapes.
We are holding hands across the lake,
you are young and beautiful -
I am a giant burning photographs.

    Mark A. Murphy 2013