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You said you knew nothing of poetry;
you had no way of stringing beaded words
together, twisting them on wire
to dangle from a chain at your collar.
You were not a jeweler, you swore, but a thief
stealing time, silent as a held breath.

And so I waited, breath by bated breath
repeating endless clichés of poetry
to myself until, like a thief,
you stole into my words.
The garden wall was useless, the guard dog had slipped his collar
and lay at your feet; the fence was only gold wire.

In the woods I found a length of telegraph wire
wrapped it around my heart until my breath
came fast and light under my collar;
You unwound it, showed me it was only harpstrings striking poetry
against the soundboard of my ribs. Without words
I knew the tune, but who will sing the miller and who the thief?

If it is you to be the thief
as you have insisted, this wire
will be the reins of my mare, whose baggage of words
is tied up tight in the spaces between my breath
whose saddle is poetry
and who is yoked with memory’s collar

I will not buckle my collar
round your heart, but leave it running free for any thief
to net up in a sack of poetry
twisted round with gold wire
leaving behind a heartprint, the sound of your breath
the caesura after your words

I would give you all my words,
put on for you the cassock and collar
of your priesthood and every breath
would be a prayer. You are no thief:
you cannot steal what I yield freely. Take this wire
from my teeth; taste the electricity of your poetry

I have no words to give you, no poetry
deft enough to weave a collar from this wire
I have only the heat of my breath, and my teeth to brand you a thief.

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