Scent, Comb, Spoon


Even the might-have-been returns.
The simplest thing – scent, comb, spoon –
and it swings back streaming bright dust toward the sun,
an abandoned chaos that needs to be known,
an insistence thirsty for history, hungry for soul.
He writes the idea down,

remembering how they watched two otters once –
that sinuous skein more fluid than water itself.
Do thought and feeling twine like that,
a spiral helix speeding time?
Now the water has calmed
reflection and loss keep faith.

But where does it go to really, he wonders,
or come back from;
is this all resurrection means,
a flicker of cells, a taste for symmetry?
Drop a dimension, and what was it all about?
His irony’s nervous tic is a grey shortcut:

two hesitations er er
in a declaration of love,
the question-answer in a mock debate,
or less, the single quote marks either end
of an anecdote with a lame punchline –
‘two dark wings that could not lift our bird to flight’.

And the joint citation for commonsense,
was it conscience, confusion, or cowardice ?
Music vanishes into itself, he writes,
Words swim back through words, things of that sort.
He’s writing a book on Scythia.
They say she’s taken up golf.

What’s left? A taste for blue.
And a keepsake to outlast them both –
the mid-month moon lugging its unseen half
like cherished flesh. There is
a wholeness to almost everything.

Jan Owen, used by permission of the author and publisher

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