I’ve visited once or twice, white
ubiquitous and the set-aside
Everywhere under foot…
Haar pours upstreet like a river
in reverse, waterfalls
the kirkyard gate where I wade
through night’s small hours,
over the plush quiet-and-still
like a rug beneath my feet.
Stone after stone
the dark unveils its dead ligeance,
and there’s nothing to be found
as in those age-old stories
where a lover bears her ritual
of myrhh and rose-clippings
to find the shroud torn, tracks
leading away from the empty grave.
No—I don’t believe in second-
comings or the everafter,
only anatomy’s decay: the body
becoming like moonlight
hurried in the stagnant pool of itself,
until it no longer recalls the self,
only earth and the dew-laced
strands of grass it feeds.
I was a boy when I watched
the other boys lead a dog
into the field behind my house,
douse his coat with oil and send him
blazing through the furze—
the whole tract consumed
by a rippled tongue of flame
licking the air. The next year
spilled with yellow buds
and I read the story of a man
drowned at sea: how the ocean,
a black tumult, turned smooth
and glinting as he sank beneath.
Listen: the past has nothing to say
for itself—after the first death
the rest follow step into the earth’s vault.
And every night I work the spade
as haar pools up-around my knees,
lower the rope and from each
new grave pry open a silence—
like pulling back the sheet
they laid over my sweet-heart’s face,
when her heart stopped
beneath the mortsafe of her ribs.