Here & Then
The Ulster midnight sprang crooked wells
gushing forth beneath the staircase soot
and the curbsides painted Union Jack; embraces
furthest from memory, stumbled past the threshold
next morning's noon, feet unbalanced from pavement chippings,
head unbalanced from your memory in voice.
The moon's reflected temperance, steel pen sharp
in the long shadows of kebab shop windows and
taxicab vacancy signs flipping light patterns,
gave a mug warmed of mother's milk to ponder,
brought with its ticking tidewalls the looseness
of flapping springtime dresses in dull ache above your knees.
It was then we bit into each other as ripe persimmons
in Venetian royalty's covered garden, heat
of once-touched lips burning bright as October's first
snowfall, denied skin lapping together harmonious as
saltwater's carnival kiss, sweet as boardwalk taffy,
our bodies half-empty wine bottles along the sand.
The angel's share of whiskey cask coloured
crease lines along your back, smoothing stone
sweat caress as our last partings in careful construction
untangled, shaking, swaying time obsidian curls
unfurling, Rorschach tests of observed beauty on bedsheet,
quiver-tremble a second as we became.
Between Falls and Shankill in feeling now,
were you here I'd hold you aligned to the Sands mural,
kiss-write you love letters in the Peace Line wall;
were you, I'd say, “stay the same don't ever change
from springtime's green-eyed pastures”, but that was then,
and change was the one thing you always did.