matisseThis is a narrow morning,
the handcuffed

I decant. The table and the day slick over. The scent of rain on a pavement, that sharp rising; and your not looking away when I look back. My name beneath your tongue, taken.

And in the room with the stopped clock our breath syncopates and the break in your voice is the sound that I make and time since the draining of it.

You say I am soft and clean like water and soft and clean I flow. You wet your mouth on me. And did wine pour from your mouth to mine? I don’t know. The past cannot be predicted but I want to say we were here. We were here. Leave me here. I arch like architecture. Leave me here.

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I am remembered.

Column base with Maenads 1

And everything neglected and everything fermented. Too-ripe fruits on the windowsill skin-breached, fresh-broke figs, a chicken half-carved. Blood lees in stemmed glass and the stick of honey everywhere: the handle of the teapot, the cutting board, my fingertips. A fat jug of milk warms and rises; the draining board falls away. And a tree sprouts in the middle of the dance-wide floor.

Because I am remembered. The memory is ice sharp and sweet like violence. The day splits its bark.

I was a slow-wave sleeper, eyes still as safety; now your voice glitters like tears because I was content.

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orangesThey are soft leather, but don’t quite fit. Remember? The tips of my toes touch the ground as I walk. Where were we going? Coffee and bread, something warm and sweet, a rising cry. The drifting signatures of unseen lives. I trail my hand along rose-coloured bricks. Our footsteps echo and I look back. Your eyes are bluer here. We move through pale amber, resinous and slowing; this street is endless, we are fixed here already.

You gather my hair, slowly, and slowly wind it over and around your hand and lift it up, slowly, above the nape of my neck so I am cooled; the day is hotter now. A cyclist weaves a silent semi-circle, a tyre brushing the kerb;  it is we who should have moved, but in that moment we were sculpted there.

We turn and retrace our steps, upward-sloping, and on the stiff white sheets the bag of oranges spilling open. You returned with them before I was up; the day stretches back and back. This room with its pale walls and long linen-covered bolster and crumbling stone balcony where later we stand, leaning out into the day, segmenting oranges, one after the other, the juice sweet as sugar and the tips of my toes black with the dust of Venice.

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