Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Parting Ways

Parting ways: when dividers inched apart
And a little daylight sprang the knowledge
That a moment had slipped unspoken – brief
As a gasp. Paths and channels became futile
And all that remained was to walk down roads
Which spread the town, putting houses and jobs
Between us: the public personas
We’d mixed agreeably sought a new milieu,
Cold at the farthest points of the compass.
Your loss may be a temporary pain,
But not our flight from the admitted risk
Of honest talking; our failure to find
Ourselves, even in the warmth of a bed.
For now I deduce from your stubborn pout
The life you’re launched on; briefly see the stains
On that rigid mask in the High Street bustle,
Defeats of time and place as your form recedes;
Your lineaments wholly apart from me.

Someone I worked with said once how it made
Her sad that the bland acquaintance of work
Would sharpen when someone left to a crack
In the texture of the day, yet reduce
So soon to a weak stain of memory:
Friendliness was lifted like a mantle
And shifted to another. Dear Peggy!
Forty-ish, with kids, vital as a pin,
Yet fidgeting to know what made her tick,
Stuck like a clock hand on the vacant face
Of housework, part-time job, and a husband
Preparing already for retirement.
Her days were troubled by glimpses sneaked through
Doors which snapped with a muffled thud. A shriek
Was always in the air. Yet I recall
Her less than well. The brain blurs the fading
Print which gradually loses precision.

So what am I to say of you? We fenced
So long; we lay together, at the best
We laughed together, eyes at an angle
And truth a fiction written day by day.
I think of the far North: a headland’s snout,
Lip-tight, butting the cold douse of the tide;
And the white South, that plateau declining
With its back the friendly tapping of currents.
And vague beneath horizons I think of you
Swinging crazily on a nub from “Yes”
To “No” like a needle tipped with a plea.

Well, whatever is what it’s happened. Alone,
I’m off on the next slow haul. May your way
Be easy, your compromise acceptable
(As mine must be). Abandoned in the cold
Defining of our days, I wish you well.

© circa 1973-76

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