Thursday, May 22, 2014

Charles Tomlinson

Charles Tomlinson [PennSound]


Swans. I watch them
come unsteadying
the dusty, green
and curving arm
of water. Sinuously
both the live
bird and the bird
the water bends
into a white and wandering
reflection of itself,
go by in grace
a world of objects.
Symmetrically punched
now empty rivet-
holes betray
a sleeper fence:
below its raggedness
the waters darken
and above it rear
the saw-toothed houses
which the swinging
of the water makes
scarcely less regular
in repetition. Swans
are backed by these, as
these are by
a sky of silhouettes,
all black and almost
all, indefinite.
A whitish smoke
in drifting diagonals
accents, divides
the predominance of street
and chimney lines,
where all is either
mathematically supine
or vertical, except
the pyramids of slag.
And, there, unseen
among such angularities —
a church, a black
freestanding witness
that a space of graves
invisibly is also
there. Only
its clock identifies
the tower between
the accompaniment of stacks
where everything
repeats itself —
the slag, the streets
and water that repeats
them all again
and spreads them rippling
out beneath
the eye of the discriminating
swans that seek
for something else
and the blank brink
concludes them without conclusion.

The Fox Gallery

A long house —
the fox gallery you called
its upper storey, because
you could look down to see
(and did) the way a fox would
cross the field beyond
and you could follow out, window
to window, the fox's way
the whole length of the meadow
parallel with the restraining line
of wall and pane, or as far
as that could follow the sense of all
those windings. Do you remember
the morning I woke you with the cry
Fox fox and the animal
came on — not from side
to side, but straight
at the house and we craned
to see more and more, the most
we could of it and then
watched it sheer off deterred
by habitation, and saw
how utterly the two worlds were
disparate, as that perfect
ideogram for agility
and liquefaction flowed
away from us rhythmical
and flickering and
that flare was final.

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