the flowering weed
letter on the Upper Nile
And taking our your letter under dusk's long firmament
I let the words you wrote fly upwards like fleeing birds,
and high among their fellow birds they swung and swirled
and wove the whole deep sky into a seamless garment
of blue gone to black and star-gold, in which we two were furled.
So we lay all that night, wrapped in your canopy of words.
And all that was created wild, river and rock and air,
lay in complicity with us: the water swirled the stone,
found out its crevices, the river's bed a bed
for lovers; and air lay with earth and made a fervent pair.
The torrents of our eyes spated the water, our love-sighs fed
the wind, and in our triumph nothing was loveless or alone.
Blue Nile Gorge
O shall I find a way to conjure you
Across the wandering spaces?
Or in the bombardment of black and broken water
And in these canyoned places
That magnify all sound and wash my skull
Ear through to ear, shall I capture
One single cry from you, one smile or sigh
That recollects our rapture?
The cascading of your love is far too sweet
To share such savaging,
And the depths of your wild eyes too silent and clear
To mingle in this blind raging.
Yet here within, beyond all space and sound
That are themselves messageless,
In the beat of my own heart I catch a throb of yours
That slakes my loneliness.
At first it was only the rock-face that I saw,
a distant majesty of white, a hint
across the bleak sea, a glimmer reflecting,
a sun not risen yet.
Is it a rock-face?
So early in the morning there can be no certainty.
I’ve sailed this patch of empty sea before
and I had been told this was a landless ocean:
the drooped horizon and the motion of hurrying
waves the interminable narrative.
But then this rock
suggesting land – a geographic point
at which a continent leaned out and turned the dark sea
green and white.
I would not try to explore
the continent behind the shore. If this was
a swelling of firm earth out of the flux,
a site of fixity and love, I would not seek
for any further knowledge than that this land
lay here against the sea, an anchorage,
a place of stillness, joy and resolution always.
It has risen like Atlantis overnight!
These white citadels and palaces of rock
still glisten from the oceanic suck.
And now I’m anchored here and gone ashore,
climbing again and again above the rhyming
breakers into our tilted fields to lie
beside you in the sun, I ask if this land
that claims eternity will not sink back
another night beneath the impenetrable drift.