For three days we had held hands
watching the forest slowly burn,
spew its secrets of tiny creatures
onto the shoreline:
flycatchers, trogons, nightjars,
scuttling of unwanted lives through the grass,
and the endless fritterings against the air
of tiny insects. And once a boomslang,
its one green side burnt to a crisp,
seemed to stare through us without expression
from a smoking eyepit.
At last you turned
towards and then away from me
as the wind died, your hair
a rope of soot heavy on your throat
and said, ‘come, we have done enough.’
It was the beginning of a silence
maggoted deep inside us.
we will slot our souls every morning
into the machine and press the digits
which make us work, eat, defecate
smile at those fated to return
into our lives with the force of habit
who want to smile at us. But a gear
somewhere has slipped its ratchet.
We never seem to be alone: naked,
you wear your skin like a costume now
with crotch, hair, nipples painted on;
turn your eyes up show me the whites
each time I enter you.
And our bodies reek dank and strange
with a memory of forests.
from Love That Is Night (Gecko Poetry, 1998), ? Kelwyn Sole 1998, used by permission of the author