Homecoming / Epithalamion
Knocking on this door again,
I feel as if I’m drumming on my own chest and hearing
the rattle of something impaired. Everything I feel
feels inauthentic or ill-formed. I overtook him
without knowing and I who was always a mourner
for hire am self-employed.
Grief like ecstasy cramps
my arm and every suit on the central line outlives
him with every wheeze and tremble.
She was sitting gently
in the pleated light
on half their bed. I saw
my mother in the clutch
of scented orchids
wearing her wedding
ring like a trance. Her joy
broken for keeps, a sob
breaking like a small bone in her throat.
I was a child
peering at the bedroom door,
I don’t lose sleep over the mercy of God.
She is in love, he is preserved
I can see him moving as a bird alone in anonymous rain
forewarned by blood like every migratory thing and gone
in wind, in perdu, insignificantly battered but I think
his jaw was wired and what arterial embalming
lent in tensile strength to his taut veins
I could not see. Disinfected,
opened and pinned as a pair of wings he suffered
four gloved hands massaging his muscle’s plumes
to relieve the rigor mortis. I was upright looking down
at him, slumped under bruises
like hoofprints when I delivered to the undertaker
what clothes we chose to be exalted.
Denim on fire. And skin and hair. Flesh to tallow
sliding into burning water. Fire flensed the intimate
random plan of his person, the world deferred and his jawbone
fell away like sugar.
No grave-land crows, no ossifragae
will come to tear fresh soil’s knots.
I do not know the portent of the pitch
or direction of song, I do not the know hierarchy
of signs. I know the sky was divided
into four and he was not softly lost
and it does not look like a man
asleep. His mortified surface lay down pale and
unlike itself, absent and so unlike
himself. A desolated thing, his beauty
He’d just started to like my sinning.
What can I possibly say. All other thoughts have quit, I’m begging
this feeling like a hummingbird:
don’t fly away.
Art Allen is a young poet originally from Kochi, now living and studying for a PhD at the University of Oxford. His poetry has previously appeared and is forthcoming in a number of national and international magazines including; The Irish Literary Review, The Amsterdam Quarterly, Wilderness House, The Oxfonian Review, The Cadaverine, IS&T, Cake and Elbow Room.