Ghosts are, to some senses: death doesn’t inter all things into a past. Some thing shimmers freely beyond cremation’s flare of loss.
When our love dissipated, and I’d lapsed into sleep where my hand strayed over to cold sheets where you’d lain, still you seemed to lean over the bed, hair, eyes, as I recalled them.
Only your clothes’ colour was hard to bring back; the shape of the beryl ring I gave distorted. I could no longer shape my lips to your lips.
But your breath between them and your voice were real, as you made the night air resonate, clicking frail fingers on thumb-bones at me:
“Have you already dropped asleep towards me, have our furtive restless nights already faded for you? or the times we had al fresco sex, moving together, bare soil agitated beneath us? forgotten love-words you gasped which the wind shattered to noise?
Through doubling ways memories are wreathes laid on this poisoned world-stream, where we all scull about aimlessly. Along one bank, shades, moments from the past
drag back intimate guilts.
On the other stream-bank we’re stolen away by flower- scented images to the place in our brains where we danced to our song that time in a sweltering Leeds night-club.
Plant ivy in that region where you have settled me in your mind; let the fullness of its berries, dendriting tendrils preserve the wavering memory of me. Picture us on our river walks, meadows
and orchards, sunlit scenes that will never fade away. Don’t let our happy daydreams lapse; if they are good ones they always mean something.
At night our thoughts stray free of day’s fore-shadowings, but with dawn we return to life’s pale stale marsh, we are translated to silence.
All the other lovers haunt, but I’ll hold you soon, body to my body, some otherwhere.”
Once your voice died away your image rose, ungrasp- able beyond my arms’ quick reach to embrace you.
Biography: Steven Matthews is a poet and critic who was born and brought up in Colchester, Essex. Waterloo Press published his first collection of poems, Skying, in 2012; OnMagnetism, his second collection, appeared from Two Rivers Press in 2017. In 2016, Steven was one of three inaugural poets-in-residence at the Museum of Natural History, Oxford, and created new work for the residency anthology Guests of Time (Valley Press). A poem from the residency was set as the final part of a song cycle for soprano and string quartet by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Those Endless Forms Most Beautiful, which was premiered in October 2019.