It was that dressing-gown, deep medieval blue
and starred with tiny flowers, that did for me.
Hair up, fresh from the bath, you stood there
like a book of hours. It was a charity
in me to take confession of those breasts
and rosy nipples, of the clasping roots
that split old grimy London head to foot,
and nail the clamour of your lips. Alas!
I am of them that snuffle up small print
and range the world in transubstantial books
which armours me against small deaths but not,
it seems, this odyssey of killing looks.
In Hampstead, on the tilt, repeating word
for word our promptings, looking up to see
the solemn paradigms, a family
which mingled hope and pain as something stirred
and broke the surface of them all, we said
the word and walked out smiling. Photographs
snatched by a friend showed later that you’d cried
at first, balancing the bride
in you against the funeral of a girl
who’d left blood on the landscape, run amok
to lock out accidentals. It took
two continents to grow you: now you move
into the narrow orbit of sheer love
high up above them all, where comets shine
and men rehearse quotations, all space-time
bent round in adoration: now we cut
and cast the skin we lived in, as the moon comes up.
– William Scammell