Of Masculine and Feminine

I found these in my Gravity and Grace notes. Can anyone remember if they are anyone’s? I have no recollection of writing them, but there are things about them that remind me of the kind of thing I do. I don’t want to plagiarise anybody, but I find a mysterious strength in these that I rather hope is mine. Can anyone help?


1:There is indeed a woman…


There is indeed a woman, black as a cassock

standing in a desert, in the most waterless part

making images of the sounds of life,


just as there is a woman in bright light

standing in familiar plenty

making images of wind-blown dust;


and these echoes, these rough sketches

alone suggest how non-being

casts aside life or certainty.


The ebony woman is in constant change,

the woman of light ascends transformed.

Can it be that the cloud


is not the rocks? The bright mountain

that heaves itself out of the depths

boring down into the depths?


It is not the rocks. It is death.

That is the sparkling rock, the mountain,

the still boulders, and it is fire.


So then the plain statement is regeneration,

when the rocks become the mountain

and the mountain becomes the broad earth.


There white lilies wither in the ditches,

and forgettable blossoms raise their colour

in the lee of it, where it stands.


2:Part of the problem is that cold…


Part of the problem is that cold

and stasis are different

from the cold immobility

of a man.


It is that there is an echo,

the origin, the finish

of a shapeless something.


Its fulness astounds. A man

in tight armour presses

the cold gauntlet

to our flinching flesh.


Nothingness has no place here.

His outlines blur in the mist.


But he is present,

and the ring of winter mills

follows his pacing.


He guards a voluble tongue,

for he is engaged, committed.

He emerges again, clearly,

but masking his love.




I describe my hopes and languor in silks,

my needle, like the rain,

bright and quick.


All in yellow he will come galloping.

I shall hurry to the sunlit casement

and wrench at the latch.

He will look up.


I think my heart must be

a kind of fish, leaping

and gasping on a dry bank.


My footfalls on the bare boards,

bare boards,

bare boards.


Ah these stale waters

and the rain, and the dismal grass,

and the dusty beams, rounding

and chafing my shoulders.


Bare boards,

bare boards.


The buskin’d fool in the moat

draws up an eel. Outraged and vigorous,

it writhes and beats

in the bottom of the skiff.


I hear the bray of the horn

of a sturdy man.

My needle draws him closer.

Lying on the back seat of a Dodge Rambler up on cinder blocks in an alley somewhere in the city.

Just below her waist a creature

of flesh awakens in the hollow, sucking

red brightness from the hidden root.


Up the hill, around the crowded playground,

bullhorns bellow all at once

in the commonplace evening. At her left


in moon shadow, in the alley,

pools of freshly spilled gasoline

catch neon glimmers to reflect


palely into the morning city light. A dog

enviously lurks by, no place to go.

She is fulfilled and beginning.