Poems

Effigies

They delve into cubic rubble   tunnellers
of particularity     burrowing
through the multitudinous dusts of brick
ash     the skin’s microscopic scales

Touching at last     beyond a chair’s straight
back     an elbow crooked in a sleeve
A child and a woman as they were at a table
together when the dust met them
(meeting itself     could go no further)

The house closed over them   choked every opening
took each hand upon the table     their arms
her breasts beneath the porous woollen shirt
Laid itself heavily over the bright kerchief
Embalmed the boy’s ink curls

The searcher’s hands uncover them   clothed
for winter mid-morning     They might be
plaster casts in their blanket of ruin
Even the chalk loaf she was about to slice
with the sand knife

The rescuers bring oxygen
(It spills before them in a flood)
They bring light to the dead

But the dead     (who are their own effigies)
have no need of it

 

from Technologies and Other Poems, Polygon, 1990

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