But I Ordered Love
She shrugs. Can’t you…
At her bare hot desk, she takes
a call: They had no invoice. Hold on…
looks at me, I need to…
As she does, I wait. The air con
stops then starts, above
her plant’s lamina of dust.
You wanted more?
Not sure who she’s talking to,
I pause. She stares at me.
In your application, you asked for…
I tell her of the sea we saw
torn by a winter moon;
the breeze tracing bonfire
sparks across our garden’s dusk;
my wife’s breathing as a dream
began to worry, and I knew
I’d wake her soon.
Sensing the rest-bereft expanse of now,
the emptiness I inhabit, propped
by fossil thoughts in whose cupped
hands I hold recall’s leaking bliss,
she frowns at her keyboard.
Someone coughs, phones ring,
the air con stops again.
I’ll forward this…
I brought the dead wood back to life.
Stepped in and budded every twig,
blushed imperial crocus, bluebell bed,
and the bared yellow of celandine
with each passing foot.
I – who couldn’t save a marriage,
or father a child – made the sulk
of winter love me in a warming morn.
Best to have stayed put,
fondling bark and wormshit earth,
spilling seed in brook and copse,
running leaved light through the song
in my eye, sire of shadows and tangled sound,
my thought-spoor found at dawn by men
drawn from the path – senses running off
with their dogs after my vanishing form –
their women left behind, warmth spreading up
loosening thighs, bellies swelling with my summer laugh.
The dead fox gets unsteadily
to his feet, limps to my desk,
where he stares at me, aghast.
Why… he says, …your poem
…when you found my body,
in the frost, by the stream?
I remember the bright, cold
light that day, him lying by
the nettles, his immaculate fur.
The lines… he gasps, …brought
me… made me… I look at his
dull coat, sodden and matted,
his gelled eyes’ opaque mess,
the ripped hanging lip, patches
of bare, maggot-gnawn skin,
the foreleg’s bone, bared by
busy crows who also tore
the anus, spilling pale folds
of bowel on the ground, weeks
after I wrote the words. Every day,
his diminishing where he lay
in the mud, the flooded ghyll
sliding past, the worn leaves
round him, the curious footprints
filled with rain. The breezes
beneath a restless sky. The slow
plunder of his body in the cold…
…of your cold image: its callous
rotting worked at, its dead birth
worming my unrest free all winter
till I’m here, ruin-ribbed, woodspoil
fit for nothing, the revolting shade
of my decay dragged across the page.
What now for your plaything, poet,
your corruption by the water’s side?
What now for all that I’ve been…?
He hangs his head of shadows above
the keys. When he says no more
I pause, then close the screen.
Craig’s had poems published in The London Magazine, The North, The Rialto, Agenda, Stand, New Welsh Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Under the Radar, Orbis, Butcher’s Dog, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Frogmore Papers, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Message in a Bottle, Magma and Prole. He’s got work forthcoming in Acumen and Neon.