Because in a foreign city even at eight
he needs the familiar nearby, to hitch
the gaze like the reins of that lacquered
horse to a fixed spot, in order to let loose,
Under the bathroom light I examine every particle of you.
A taxonomist with a specimen, I trail through
the topography of your naked back, classifying
whorls and curlicues. These signs lie beneath our daily clothing
What am I going to write here?
Something, I hope. A year
or so since I last launched out
Years ago when John Forbes praised
my later work, he said my Problem
of Evil was influenced by Tranter’s
Red Movie, and being younger and furiouser,
I rang Forbes and explained P. of E.
I wish I had been painted by Millais. Maybe not as Ophelia in a tepid bath.
Perhaps as Lady Macbeth. Or Titania. Or Portia. Not Brutus’s Portia. Portia from
The Merchant of Venice. I used to make you sit on a little wooden stool and pretend
you were painting me. Stroke after stroke rasping against the canvas. I would
B, brave brown, C, icicle
pendant, D, dun though pale,
F for faint mauve, fish and bicycle,
G, gothic paint in a green pail
Twelve noon Monday, 38 degrees and rising.
The phone’s rung twice
and someone else has fallen off
the twig while military files of micro-
Emboldened by sharing, briefly, the same
publisher as Frieda Hughes, I looked up
an article on her latest collection, found
a photo of her living room, which seemed
Camperdown’s for dogs,
Friday evening in the park off Church Street
a barefoot man
carries a plank: