Eth

Eth was a dreamweaver, one who could leave her body and step across the stars, in Louise Lawrence’s 1998 young adult novel, Dreamweaver. I read it when sometime between the ages of 8-10, and Eth has stuck with me ever since.

Red girl – and I mean girl, for I
was young and could only begin
to imagine you – red dream girl
projecting yourself into me
from the page, but also across
galaxies, to warn me not to come –
You were held in supple halos
of redness. Your smooth hair was long
and now I see it in the hair

of my friend, who is a bullet of
a woman. I see your hair light
until all the hair I now know
or once knew began in this thought.
I remember you so vaguely –
you are the first friend who I lost
and the first one to draw from me
the structures of love. I was young
and now I am young again. Old

is the way you recur to me.
I half expect god to return
in your form. I sat with the books
on the blue grey carpet, felt it
drain the blood from my palm leaving
the impression of weave, and you.
Did my teacher remark at this
sudden silence brought on? Sighing,
I remember you. Please come back

V.53

A great book is an arsonist
that sets fire to the field of you.
Flames lick across, and slow or fast
you change. A great book is a crack

in glass, that hit just right will break,
creating a pile of shards that
rest on the pavement and inspire
this thought that something once held here.

A great book is poison, stopping
the normal functioning of the
organism. A great book is
a tear in the fabric of normal

time. Or shampoo in life’s wide eye.
A great book takes the jigsaw’s last
piece and eats it as you watch. Damn.
A great book is like an error

in printing where the whole thing starts
again when you’ve just reached halfway.
A great book can be an error.
A great book is a burst lightbulb

in a dark hall, making you cold
and nervous. A great book is a
bag that splits, scattering your stuff.
A great book is a sprained ankle

V.28

If you listen when the sun rise
continues over the woods, you
can hear them. In amongst the trees
whisper the ghosts of the dark elm

and around them flutter pulp texts
of appraisal and if you then
listen when the cashier rattles
the till drawer, taking payment

for a selection of old books
you can hear them. In amongst the
shelves the ghosts of poems about
elms slip and slide from page to page

and as the sun light cuts through leaves
and bluebottles mate, rattling along
thin old bits of rope, and old stones
once used to rip up grain for flour,

let reading not have been a strange
historical cul-de-sac, let
people lower their eyes, only
let the silence ramify out

so we can hear ghosts when they spin
suspended in the air like leaves
hung on invisible threads, leave
ghosts that hang on the page margins

On Ulysses

The voices are everywhere. There
they are crawling from the dead
floater in the bay and taking flight.

The wet walls and eaves are speaking,
can you not hear them – again, it’s happening;
damp mortar discourses on ibn sinna.

Each wave is its own word
and they pile upon pile upon pile –
til we drown in the snotgreen sea

where a deep priest and thousand-fold choir
speak tongues to discourage the wanderer
unwilling to take a breath, and stay

Books

Books build fire as the letters pile
in kindling piles; they radiate heat
which dwindles us to dregs and drabs
of a person held there feeling free
in the wound-round wire-web of tales
that leaves us to gape, to brush off convention –
letting our miserable minds out to fly
and in this flying, find our ease