Round with Variations

The warm car halts, its dials
glowing with consumer serenities.
Hand on key, the laughter
decays in a pool of enveloping
stillness humans fear.

  Rough grass, a headlit jungle,
surging to downland whose whitening
scarred bones underpin
dark textured thickets of box elder -
grief amid the priests.

  For it’s into this
the flickering cooling minutes
call me; Opening,
the first rush of alien homecoming,
sharp as a governess,

where fractured shadows wave
and stumble in lateral distortion.
My coat is buttoned now:
as if its protection afforded me
shelter among the spectres.

  So long as light-brushed beeches
father your path, then in theory
retreat is possible:
but turning is blindness, postponed
or instant - choose which.

  The cracked uncertain footfall,
the light growing dim, iridescence
in nature, gusted leaves;
wise or unwarned, eluded or
sought, the end's the same:

  Rage then, if you wish, against the
death of light; metaphysical
pain made flesh made dust;
unquiet graves and the ungentle
nightfall's uncried tears.

  But after? Velvet-breathed
air you can swim in, a kind of peace ...
clear and silent cloud-wrack.
You and the night are at one -
hunting - sleeping - fucking.

In time you are your maker,
focussing anger from tired eyes
along the mud-flanged pitfalls
others must cross before your vacant
frame buds green life dying.

On the North Downs, 17 xii 79

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