Escaping into the Sea
The horses are talking again,
she whispers, spinning their shouts
like droplets from lank manes,
and always at night. Her voice rises
again: like an ocean, she says,
a harsh shiver from their big mouths,
a black and white wave surging
off fences and gates.
She sits forward, hands tight
around a mug of tea. Last week
tree-sprites snatched her
shoes, and before that the bears
marched from the mountains
like people on their hind legs
singing. I used to be like her.
She isn't looking
at me; she is still borne
on a crest of twisting horses
piling over moonlit gullies.
Why'd you become a priest?
On my brother's birthday
I can't sleep. I see her eyes
as dark knots, her hair
writhing like living rope. Finally
I dream of a barn speared with light
a long way off in barren fields.
My vision turns to beams
wooden and sagging, of roofjoists
screeching in a gale. The light
has gone and stormwind
growls at the walls. I cannot leave
or turn away from the door, back
to the moving darkness, the strung weight,
the beamslung silhouette.
There's a village of stars
under the sea. She's seen it
after dark with home left behind:
sharp against the surface, bulbs
burgeoning in swells.
She sips and cups
her bruised eye. Her father's
working late tonight. She's going
back there at nightfall.
Would I like to come? No,
no thank you.
That night I dream again:
of her tiptoeing a moonrock beach
with water hung in her hair
There is no wind; her nightdress
clings like old skin, and as her toes
hit the first lapping wave
the fabric shines. Deeper
still deeper she walks, and the cloth
sticks to the water and billows
like a grey cloud;
until there is only that, and the waves
crashing, the distant rumble of horses,
and the bears
coming down from the mountains