swan

stepping into another world,

time’s walls seem to melt,

and looking in the window

of the long low boat, i see you with a kettle in your hand

and call you.

 

our talk ranges wide, dropping and picking up threads like

weavers improvising a fabric, preoccupations, sudden recollections –

i settle slowly to your pace

and watch you prepare food, good root veg and cabbage.

at the far end of the cabin a candle flickers

picking up the sheen of old wood grain.

outside coots croak, ducks quack, the occasional splash

and distant trains rumble through.

 

you mention a lone swan that perhaps has lost his mate,

that spends time close to your boat, following your movements,,

knocking for food, not seen for a few days.

 

the gentle rocking of the boat, the flickering candle,

the dancing reflection of the street lamp playing light games on the water –

we are afloat on the generous void,

rocked in the water’s embrace, familiar, mysterious,

drinking dandelion coffee and talking of houses, the death of parents,

problems with boilers and insulation, then you speak of beltane

how seven swans flew over –

 

then you say: and here he is –

 

and there outside is a great swan, white on the sleek dark water,

and we feed him through the window; his grand severity,

his hunger, his whiteness, his otherworldliness,

as if summoned by the mention of the seven swans –

but he is also a real swan, pecking at the window

and the small canoe moored alongside,

drawing blood from my finger in his eagerness.

 

and this night remains time out of time,

here in this multiple, hungry world,

our finely woven floating moment.

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