The high windows caught the sky, varicose,
livid. The house was empty, unlived-in.
He hurried down wide paths strewn with rose petals,
wind-culled and faded. He searched borders,
bushes, her features imaged and snared in shapes
of angled branch and thorn, an orange sun
searing gun-metal clouds, the fountain sprouting
papery leaves, its bronze boy greening alone.
Ivy’s grasp crumbled artifice, obscured
the basin inscribed with a sonnet.
Soughing of breath or the wind in the arbour
summoned him into its close. She was there.
Her brow on the cold pane, she saw the fire’s
mirror – then looked suddenly beyond
to examine a shape falling slowly:
a leaf, a bird, a dark star, sharpening
from blur through disc to pentangle
becoming – a man. Not the imagined
scream, the body’s slump on the terrace,
servants running towards the now headless corpse
but the incomplete moment was memorised,
the continuous present, choosing, longing:
a stranger falling to earth, without
history or songs but with infinite
consequences now not quite beginning.
The house lay far behind; through snow that flurried
eyes, rain that haled the flesh, hopelessness
choking like marsh light; through smoke from burning
stands of silver birch, a bitter smoke
that crackled forth like speech and swathed the head that
sang where it had fallen, sang finely,
like grasses or a stream, of hills as smooth as
limbs, of forests deep as memory,
of golden-helmeted horsemen cantering
eastwards over soft, wordless floors – one carrying,
by its black hair, a head scattering
blood like roses and sublimely singing.