- The Comfort of Rain, and: Last Visit Home, and: The Pumpkin Tenement, and: Reader’s Cramp, and: Uneaten Bread, and: After the Apocalypse, and: Some Hope, and: Wish You Were Here
THE COMFORT OF RAIN
Nights like this there’s comfort in the sound of rainfall On the glass and on the roof and, through the open Window, on the elder leaves beside the gable; And more than comfort in the thought of falling rain On empty pastures in the dark, invisible About the yards and garden plots it infiltrates, Its blandishments to rusty buckets as it fills Them drip by drop, its penitence through broken slates. A cyclist wipes the water from his spectacles And puts his head down into silence once again, His headlamp harvesting a cone of drizzle. Above him, unlit in the fathomless heavens, Falls rain whose comfort now exceeds this quiet pale Of fields and back roads, streets deserted after three, Glutted cuts and ditches, slack wires slung from pole To pole and slick as liquorice, the cemetery Asleep in threadbare sheets of squall on passing squall; It’s falling hard not just across the parishes Of here and now but coming down like stair-rods still On what has been and gone—rain that never perishes The goose-bump skin al fresco teenage couples feel Or clears from the horizons of forgotten days— And in fury on the pavements of torrential Seaside towns we won’t know for a month of Sundays, On dreams of thunderstorms and deluge, eternal Downpours, our houses buoyed like boats upon the swell. [End Page 59]
LAST VISIT HOME
The power’s been cut. Dousing my headlights by the gable sinks our yard to the sea bottom, the workshop shed
a dark wreck chased under shredded cloud schools, coral spruces scraping the corrugated roof. Litho plates patch
up windows broken thirty years ago; asthmatic gusts shake out the sheets of weathered print and then subside.
Rainwater drips a soft tattoo beyond whatever light the periodic moon allows— inspecting walls,
an interior of paper shavings, a guillotine blunted by psoriasic rust, stilled Gestetners—
so that, turning to the house, its gutters, crippled down-pipes, corroded eaves and aerials come into view.
The door is locked. I’ve never had a key. A calendar Long out-of-date looks down upon the kitchen floor,
the space we ate at empty, the lino still unblemished. No clock remains to count the days before it’s gone. [End Page 60]
I tap the single pane with fingertips and watch the room buckle briefly into strangeness, half-expecting
its regained composure to reveal there tableaux vivants of moments absence kept me from or I forgot.
My toe disturbs a saucer for the cat, the moon snuffs out and rain starts up a patient riff on bins and shrubs.
It’s time to leave. Reversing out, I’ve turned already from the unmown lawn, night-scented stock, the weeded drive. [End Page 61]
THE PUMPKIN TENEMENT
for Gillian Buckley
Baling twine slung through the mortise Of a broken door secures it In the jamb of this rundown house; Untied and hiked in the socket,
The door gives on unoiled hinges Into the chalk air of plaster; An undisturbed indoor dusk hangs In cobwebs from every rafter.
No one lives here now in the dark That pumpkins crave, their orange skulls Caked in a cuticle of earth And huddled in Halloween piles;
The switch’s burst of moth-wing light Does not mean for them redemption Since they do not long for freedom From the tenement they hide in,
They do not yearn for more than peace In the small but perfect knowledge Of existence they possess here In their half-forgotten cottage.
Instead, that filament aglow Inside its bulb of dirty glass Illuminates the gutted heads, Each pen-knife hollowed orifice
Of eye and nose and snaggled mouth, Candles within dipping their fire In draughty kitchens, in the wind On gate-posts heralding the winter. [End Page 62]
Because my wife is blinded by the lamp I’m reading Beevor and O’Callaghan Late nights by torchlight and my arms...