Sonnets for a Summer

We spend a whole day fighting, just in case
there wasn’t enough turmoil to be found
among the packing attempts strewn around.
This way our lives can never go to waste:
there’s too much crap to sling into one’s face
when memory fails to keep the sweeter sound
of goodnight wishes; self-made demons hound
our habitat amidst the parting haste.
I’m late. Of course I leave my watch behind,
right on the table by my home phone’s SIM.
Let us admit: perhaps we were unkind.
The tube is slow. I nearly miss my flight.
And now, well on my way, I fail to dream.
The plane drones on, relentless, in the night.

The air smells different now. This time each year
I come back, struggle through a wall of heat,
go home, and drench myself within the sweet,
sweet coldness of the shower. Yet I’ve come here,
and it doesn’t feel as homely as I thought.
Something is different: something in the air,
the skyline changes, or the shifting where
of house and neighbourhood. It’s bloody hot –
as usual, then – but nights are brighter now,
the horizon less there, the skies too murky for
the stars to shine. Instead, the aeroplanes
are twinkling. People, too, are dimmer. How
the plod of years has modified our shore.
And where will we go, then, for memory lanes?

Another flower blooms. I think we know
that we should tiptoe quietly past it,
that this, of all things, is impossible.
If it is still within reach, please don’t go,
don’t touch it, now. The nearness and the heat
make giddiness from silence: each decibel
above the hum of air-conditioning
gives to this plant more food, more air – just so.
I think we know that in the evening light
things sound different from the morning. You cling
to words, and so do I. This is a dance:
this one bouquet still growing; us, in flight,
knowing there is too much more to sing.
Don’t touch me now. Don’t go. Don’t take this chance.

This is delirium, then, the daily stumble
from place to place: repeatedly you sit
by black and white and place your hands on beat
to steer that raging flow. And if you fumble
the time goes on regardless. Sticks or bow
or pipe of air, the sound is there, and where
these structures arch is how emotions dare
to hold those minds in sway, offstage, below.
Let’s take a minute, now, before applause
begins the night, to hear the silence. Take
that beating heart of yours and try again.
You love this fight; you’re drumming for the cause.
And so, when doubt takes root, let music make
itself. Come, take your bow. Let us begin.

The crowd goes home after the evening play,
and I am left behind to chase the night.
The faces blur and on the bus the light
denies me sleep. My fingers wear the day
of work too lightly: now unmoving, they
have carried me on wings of sonic flight.
And so begins recovery: the gold
that coats my ring is greater than the sun’s.
The age is catching up to me, my pace
less hurried and my voice now deep and cold.
As time goes by I must again be told
to fly a little lower just in case
the wax that keeps my life together runs.
And when I fall, is there a hand to hold?

Let’s rehash the tropes of this Amor.
Under a cloudy sky we walk tonight;
whereso my hands may roam, be it the slight
curve of your waist or cupped within your paw –
it means the same thing: Love is harsh and raw.
The flowers in the breeze, the satellite
proximity, this field, that old delight.
And hugs are nothing but a sweet encore.
What do these words provoke, when written so?
When does it ever matter? In my mind
the songs we sing will carry on and on.
Can I survive, when autumn bids me go,
your absence by this accident consigned?
What kind of kiss can promise me the dawn?

The sun is falling faster than it should –
four trips a year is quite enough for me.
The clouds outside soak colours hungrily
with all the grace a foaming ocean would.
Across another sea, time has been fooled
to think that clocks can chase a sunset’s flee;
the plane drones on into the night to see
a sprawl of city lights like stars unspooled:
and you are waking half a world away.
The different times remain the same for us.
An autumn springs itself onto your world –
the tropic rain that stalled my flight today
reminded me of England: all the fuss
of tea; our garden; maple leaves unfurled.

The case lies open. It waits for me to place
my clothes and books within. Yet there is more:
the friends and memories and when we face
encroaching sunset from the thirteenth floor.
There is a strange finality about
this act, as if the breakfasts of two eggs
and iced milk tea will fade. You come to doubt
the ground beneath your own two legs.
If I have spent the summer looking back,
it is because – this time, the fevered pitch
of hazy days has made me know how short
these seven weeks have been. I have to pack.
But how much can one take away when each
new year brings parting as an old consort?


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