The World

by Prue Chamberlain


All these familiar disappointments get louder with time; that & phones ringing from the flat next door keep me up. It's a failure of south London expectations where the pit bulls or the urban foxes should be screaming like telephones at one another. But they're silent:

the only conversation tonight the wire from the pylon tapping its Morse against the window. I try to remember Charlotte grey - I'm a Blanchett fan - and decipher 'toast nor pigeons' from the incessant long/short touches of this line of conversation sounding on the glass.

‘Nor’ implies a neither, which means I shouldn't be reliant on either for something.

I feel as vague as the plastic grouting that drops off the inside of the window frame as if summer suddenly forgot it.  Heat will move; it can’t stay faithful to a line of polyfiller no matter how intimate their first July together was.

I remember a Robert Creeley poem about the light: that it was grey and came in like familiarity and warning.  I imagined the couple in the poem had white curtains – the same as mine – which makes all mornings dolefully suggestive.  As if you could get up, you could make coffee, could live, or you could turn to the person next to you still wearing last night’s nakedness and accept the world is turning greyer.  Not 50 shades of, no symbolic mediation of black and white, just tepid.

I don't think we – you & I - have a shade or hue, lightness or a likeness, but your side of the bed seems softly illuminated sometimes. When it gets beyond 12am & I can hear the last trains moving through the station nearby, their horns the blaring apology of 'not this time'.  And not this time or any time for a while have you got the 11:59 from Waterloo
and arrived on the doorstep,
which has no mat,
which I laughed about when you slipped after a rainstorm that once.

These specific temporalities of never-happened-enough or wasn't-regular so that I can remember you at specific moments as a certain slant of light, or at least, a break through the dark.

Emily Dickinson said tell all the truth but tell it slant
and I don't believe in truth
but I do think of the angles of your bodied turnings
when a dream was bad or you were ready to fuck again
& you moved like a tangent all my own
so that I could imagine you day time in distractions
of glares off car windows or phone boxes refracted by sun

Remember the stage lights we felt then
when we were still first rate & I read you anthologies in bed
because we liked poetry topless best with torso verses free as us
unrhymed as your rhythmic collar bone
broken at 17: like a crotchet: like a reading lamp

I mix my metaphors when I'm in love --- but you liked that about me: liked yourself all musicality & light & how I heard you bright
whatever the time was with your spontaneous talking & the grinding jaw percussive of dormant worry

The light, love,
the light we felt then,
greyly, was it, that