When summer ends and locust-song is stilled,
then winter winds will come and splash grey rain
upon these tables; where we now serve chilled
rosé, and rest, and celebrate how brain,
or mind, can make out meanings; winkle pain
from dumb paint globs: these daubs, those speckled floors.
My neighbour here proclaims her brushes course
with purest beauty. Looks to me a mess:
a mix of mangled manual metaphors.
She’d ostracise me were I to confess.
How many colours populate this place?
Four russet shell-less snails assist my count.
White flowers proffer broad flat leaves
that boast greens enough for myriad gowns.
Most of the blooms host hordes of well-shelled snails,
each shell a riotous, tasteful blend of browns
between bands depicting darker shades of dawn.
The arborvitae’s hues are too complex
to count their variations on dark green.
The berry bushes burst with red and black.
The stonewall stonewalls colour, but its hues
of sand and shadow backdrop one red rose
whose perfect-flower edge descends to brown
as what was bud then bloom moves to decay.
The russet snails, like sea lions seen from planes,
seem all immobile less I really look.
One turns its head; antennae sample wind.
Yesterday reading my life
in the leaves on which
the thrown-out baby
and my future in salts
left on terraced towels
when the bath water
I knew to go
unmoneyed but showered
to the closing Sunday
of the art show.
Unable when pressed to say
whether the skinned-rabbit-
or the snack bar
across the aisle where eaters
washed down sausages with beer
and machine coffee
I turned the corner
embracing every third passer-by
impartially until security
The price of art is high, without the art,
my only home a country I have left,
and my houses sold – perhaps they’re sold again.
I am here to make a baby, get some sleep
and maybe get acquainted if there’s time.
The second goal is difficult, the third
impossible. I cannot know myself
so how can conversation teach me you?
Your genes and mine survived the Deccan Traps
by keeping distance. Commentators claim
we must resolve the situations in
the Middle East, Afghanistan, New York,
all three hard places where their many poor
die younger than the average Senegalese.
Your genes and mine, and the Deccan Traps, say, ‘Must?’
No words have ever solved a single problem.
Perhaps we’ve made a baby. Conversation
provides diversion – we don’t ask from what
because we have more knowledge than we need
and know our only future’s through a child.
Revering parents does not bring them back
nor cancel when we hurt them by not caring,
and the memory of the Deccan Traps is long
but nothing that’s accessible to us.