(for George Szirtes - il miglior fabbro)
Your white ink settles on my page like snow
My stuttered words are quivering in the creases
Snow settles on my words and smothers them
My white ink clings to margins and to edges
Your white ink glides across this shiny page
My words are stumbling through your drifts of snow
Your snow has frozen all my white ink words
My white ink melts beneath your quiet breath
Your white ink lingers round my wordless mouth
Your words skit
across the page
but s m u d g e its surface
leave soft s t a i n s
an iridescent dust from fragile wings
is what remains
elusive worlds evoked and caught
are s l o w l y stroked
and c a r e f u l l y wrought
into s u c h brightness
that Iím left gasping
on the f n
l e i g
u t r
breath of flight
DO SOMETHING WITH THESE WORDS
Here, what's all this then?
I heard you creep into my poem, uninvited, you sly bugger.
I can see where you forced an entry too.
Look, just there between that weak couplet and the spelling mistake.
Decided to squat in my newest stanza, I suppose?
And now you've got the cheek to ignore me,
sitting back on your heels contemplating the structure.
Well sod off, mate.
I've not been polishing rhymes all these years
just for you to come in and finger them.
And what do you think you're doing now?
That's my best metaphor you've got your feet up on.
I sweated blood over that,
sitting up nights putting it together.
And it didn't come in kit form either, I can tell you.
Made it myself, I did,
starting from scratch with a few old similes
cobbled together in various ways till they came out right.
And, believe me, it took a long time.
But it's still not strong enough to take your weight.
There, I told you so.
Strewth, you've bent the bugger now.
I can't mend that, it's useless.
Look, if you really insist on staying,
why don't you sit on something a bit more substantial?
Go on, there's a nice sharp image over there.
Quite comfy really, if you put a cushion on it.
Actually, I borrowed it off someone a few years back
and never got round to using it properly.
Here, now I think about it, it could be one of yours.
I used to really like your stuff in those days.
Still would, probably, if I had a chance to see it.
Haven't brought any with you, I suppose?
Look, I've got an idea.
If I let you stay for a while, perhaps we could collaborate,
get it together on paper, as it were.
Yes, why not.
Go on, shift up a bit.
I'll get the beer out,
you see if you can do something with these words.