Mudlark No. 14 (2000)

The Baptism of the Neophytes

by Sarah Law

Sarah Law lives in Norwich, England. She has been published in various magazines including Big Allis No. 8 (focussing on British writers). Her first full-length collection, BLISS TANGLE, was published by Stride in 1999. Forthcoming publications include pieces in Poetry Lab and Pretext Vol. 2, both anthologies produced by the University of East Anglia, and future editions of Fire magazine. Sarah Law read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and has a Ph.D. from Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, on the influence of mysticism in modernist women writers. She is currently researching the medieval mystics, working in a bookshop, and teaching creative writing.


About THE BAPTISM OF THE NEOPHYTES: This is a collection of poems based on the Renaissance art of Venice and Florence. Since I bought a lot of postcards during my visit there, the writing is inspired by postcard-sized glimpses, and the density and uniform length of the poems reflect this. The poems are intended to stand both as individual pieces exploring the nature of spirituality, art, and love, and to form a single, slowly-spiralling contemplation of these themes.


Preface: Soul to Angel, Angel to Soul

Creazione di Eva

Trasferimento del corpo di S. Marco
Una Sibilla
Crocifisso di S. Giovanni Gualberto
L'Adoration dei Magi
S. Francesco riceve le stigmate
Nascita della Vergine
Madonna del Rosario
La Primavera
Morte di S. Francesco (particolare)
Noli me Tangere
La Madonna del Magnificat (particolare)
Apparizione dell'angelo a Zaccaria nel Tempio
Battistero – Cupola sopra l'altare
Sposalizio della Vergine
Trifono di S. Tommaso d'Aquino – Les Sciences Sacre
Creazione di Eva
La Pala d'Oro
Ospedale degli Innocenti
Una Sibilla (2)
Madonna di Crevole
Ultima Cena (particolare)
Presentazione di Gesù al Tempio
Madonna in Maesta
Madonna del Voto
Nozze di Cana
Madonna dagli occhi grossi
Madonna della Misericordia
Ritratto d'un signore nel suo studio
Trasferimento della Casa Santa da Nazareth a Loretto
Capriccio of a Colonnade
Annunciazone dell'Angelo a Maria
Il Tributo, particulare testa di Cristo
Allegoria della Chiesa
Mary Awaiting an Answer

Conclusion: Water
Sea Lover
The Baptism of the Neophytes

Preface: Soul to Angel, Angel to Soul

Angel to Soul

(I wanted this to be condensed.)
You love the thought of me lying
prone and unselfconscious
on the borderline of sleep;
your mind, now foul with cigarettes
now washed completely with remorse
wants to cut reality at root;
transplant the intensity of days
to a sweeter breeze
as I dream you lift the chord
to frequencies that shatter
and poetries that feed;
only you're still cherishing
modern introductions
to those age old texts
slipping on the point of sacrilege
(I love the thought of you daring)
the retreat to enrapture:
we're always doing it,
waltzing the subliminal around

Soul to Angel

I'm fatalistic about disappointment,
the fact that one day it may fade,
this room in which I knew I'd find you;
all the small sufficiencies of faith
fractured into derelict desserts.
You're away now, slowly resigned
to ulterior subsistence, pocketed
by ghostly partnerships, aligned
to recharacterisation as lack
and the absence of softness on edge.
I'll storm thought, my preparation
course, studying how best to please
imagistic hokum, the retorts
gleaming in idleness, spelling
admiration, amber, doused alone.
There is an arrhythmia to longing;
systole and diastole, low leaps
up to a clean fluidity of hope
spoiling the immunity of ice,
arrowing over these grey clouds.

Creazione di Eva
La Maesta

Today quaked into a good age.
Rushes are cut to middle men, sticking
jewels to flight of robe, feeling
velvet lines of succour more than hope.
Beings gaze demurely over edges
while a mother sees us out, soft
hands like limpid answer after doubt;
dubbed unswerving of a custom's cloth
spilling favours even as we lean
to an earlier representation, to largesse
of slight withdrawal from full flesh
finding a field of stillness, through guidebuzz
of weltered elbow and deleted fuss.
Somehow, she's the turning poignancy—
deliquescence of iconostatic applaud
and shades of sumptuousness to come
—as the sun self-indicates biopic
(wings around the dislocated column)
and a hatched sheen of my becoming
votary, magnificently veiled.

Trasferimento del corpo di S. Marco

Three men and a body in a boat—
that Gothic glint in the eye, small-drawn
arc, covering a vow, slow-bound
sea a translucent hayrick, leonine
mane devolving from an epic voyage.
I see a face imprinted on the portico,
remember the press of tongue
inordinately pointed to a city, strange
pull and draw of water, after hours
drinking cordiality of books
built to besiege, precariously, a craft:
collapse of a curtain, as we spread our arms,
roping round the body's lyricism
rousing sainted reverie –alive!–
soused in fortune like a pantheon
(the dry world parties), oared
as theotokotic missioners; waving,
continental fellowship marooned
in a thrice-illuminated dance: high
eloquence, in sailing for a chance.

Una Sibilla

Hark back to the testing days.
You made your mark in the sky
throned on cloudsplayed rays.
Thought is a curdled belt, informing
serenity of a shapely waste, of timed
reflux of mentality. Speak out.
solid knees always dazzling
professional etiquette throughout a line
of brow-stressing, or depressing, truth;
darting spear that punctuated hair.
Not your habit to writhe fascistically,
wring the blood of stigmatism, flout
a story. Yet the parchment quenches
a studious thirst for prayer, benevolence
for enamorata in the stalls. Which woman
stills the benched pedestrian, lost
for nation and quotation, lowered head
in commuted wisdom, lunch tone:
I'm a mere visitor, entranced,
your fingers charge the air.

Crocifisso di S. Giovanni Gualberto

Bearing sickness was sorely wanted
in a place of fashionable death
and the rent of his abjection. Bow
your head, inflamed contentions, clots
of reason bloodying the branched belief.
The road sears eyes, rasping to an end
respiratory battle of night, stillholding
Spiritus who grasps a shadowcloth;
still I fear to take you in my arms
swallowing ridicule before the masses
trip with a light step and a white robe.
Streets denying warfare, platitudes
surprise a deepening (we weren't to know)
the inexplicable invades the home—
count the rhymes I let you make,
cold bleat of eastor-in-the-dark;
face excruciates face.
My gaze is a remorsed bruise,
a breast swollen with empathic grief
incurve of fingers, candles, dames,
suffering beggars the frame.

L'Adoration dei Magi

Render me jewels with a green sheen.
We're honoured by a length of light
and martial grace of coordination
impacting town upon town;
and who is sick of reading on the ride?
Depend upon a loose leaf
tree art languishing in stellar clime,
sand carpets trace out a function:
you owe me, that's fine,
or dump the land I mine;
lad drops flakes on an open page
child upturns the rosy beaker
kisses as the cash floods back.
Donkey scrapes the literati's arm
weightless polars ice the earth
in your tight fist, in your wish list
a sibilance my foot won't tread
up rival tower, up river bed
a frank and thorough fantasy,
a sober place to lie.


They undertake a threnody,
two women and one God, losing
slavery of bones, of muscle-tone.
Mothering, her purest hair is white
weaving satchel and sarcophagus
to perambulate the drift of grief,
dead-legged, lost-twisted,
celestine withdrawal, into mist
the mouth that moved, half carved
palliative redundancy, the temple
should have prepared for this; flaw
in the prime, wax man, sun burn,
an uttering rib. Somehow the figure
sustains our balance, trapezoid
fibres hooked and lifting
scapular thrown into station
bypassing arterial hope, breathe
labouring bread on my scalp—
there is no point, there is no way
I saw the flames upsurge


Remorse is circulated by a blade
splicing veins of pleasurable nature:
drain and outspill the guardian of self
torture is the illumination of cold air
stumbled on granite, alien root
suborning species through fine comb.
How the days staunch desire's lost letter
and digital impress grey-fades
to a prison, remembering bleeds.
You are crazy in the sun, blushing
like a hooligan with flowers, just
a genius, canvassing passion, where
truce silently hollers, detains,
encrusted with my fruit, dried
and needed for victuals, singsong
and rituals, a generative war.
Purity is a voided featherbed
a tumbled fanatic remaining aloof
and stubborn in the clasp of fire
of a type, for the woman, of truth—

S. Francesco riceve le stigmate

A mermaid, sublimated into shards
of ethereal glow, embryonic on the side.
Cartographer, sweeping plants along
inchways, measuring the martyrgold;
a stolid friar and dour worm of habit,
limbos on the hook of iridescence
while the new world folds, cobbled
into a jig of gravity, upstarted.
His aureole enrobes a bed of nails
catalogued as Laudem Gloriae, Dulia,
hypostatic as the honours raise stakes,
thrilling trails of platelets, corpuscles
nestling into myth, the place that waits
slung through a ring of planets. Palms
bedecked with parachuted threads
on which floats mystery, awarded
for historical agendas of fragility
your hypnotic reticule of scent;
intimate to me the woundedness of art,
the soundings of an unmapped start.

Nascita della Vergine

Hooded eyes as if to seize the crown;
apprehension welded into suavity
monitoring the temperate profile, all
those goblets of the past, peremptory
in animation of her throat. Push
is the one commandment, hankering
for a return to soft sands, in an hour's
shift of secrecy. This room hesitates
to insult, is coaggrandized by a split.
She'll hear the cord, the pacey
end of it. A chip of intelligence
sours his tea, the fancy, partycoloured
weightlessness of office, becalming
a martial arsonist, subpoenaed friend
grazed by choke-manoeuvres, home
ragamuffins, the lithest hands around.
Reading out her sobs, naked, lies
an abundancy of solar aptitude. You
guess my smothered age, uptight
the moment evens out a human right.

Madonna del Rosario

Take me out with berries of redemption
your final style of interludic racing
dis-ease of connection is raw,
falling into single trance, kissed
in a cobalt memory, unpeeled cell
of attraction, the chemical wonder.
I'm cryogenetically squandered, I
crumpled my chance. Didactic élan
feeds as a drip my intent, altruism
lining coves, passion's wick
and the infinite pain of the cast
volume. Bear's shady torch, to claw
at that thick, manacled sagacity
intrepid in customising brands
(a looming tangibility of lack)
until my sainted call for you is feral,
trawled with compressed carbon,
making zones; antiphonal response
to this vacancy's torrent of blue
burnt ice, inner view.

La Primavera

The burgeoning elastic of my crime
hedging inconsequence. Renewal
defenestrates the old ties, a letter
to the man from holiness, sutures
on a darkened brow. I bought a bunch
in whimsical denial of the sluice
and psyche holographed in tears.
The arc of a shot vessel
curling slowly into blood
and rebirthed reminiscence;
spoon me sugar on the trolley
while we wait, modus vivendi,
tossing fagends on the map of
meanwhile, magnetical surfaces
shivering like telegraphs.
Every time I spit it out, a ghost
prances in the middle distance.
There are no qualifications for hope
constellations slide in obduracy
plans elide your voice in kindly smoke.

Morte di S. Francesco (particolare)

Erasure of intensity
featuring angels tonsured by despair
churning out their lachrymosal job
against sprung juvenilia.
Extremities still beckon
a carriage of nourishment
preceded by snow, stripped
of their unique devices
(stripped of their women):
tablature in dissolution
and deep field of drapery-
such a business of cowls.
One shaken fist, at the hieroglyphic
delegatory swarm. A riven disc
inked about a stone footrest
for oscular chiropody.
A barrel for the laity's design
wreathing the statuary line;
cover my mouth in humble exegesis
and testify to birdsong (it was his).

Noli me Tangere

Eidolon instransigent at dawn:
a girl producing ointment
it's true—your hands are larger
than my life; she's genuflective, only
tractable to the bloom of doves.
To contemplate the resurrected stride
unenveloped, thrusting, distinction
awaiting a new dispersal:
such intervals decree a loosening
of blooded society, ripped
through gasp of stark heart
to relinquishing; no tight grind
so still to fall. Forestlight, cellular
the fresco feel of compassion,
scythed or sceptred, sacramental
momenting of blaze, volition
collides with drench of voice
—I'm triggered by that word rejoice
like the moon, sylphing, swelling
into reflective choice.

La Madonna del Magnificat (particolare)

A comet power-lifting from your nape
as filamented fingers play the grain
of running desert, ruined wall, scrolled
and retrograde as Venus. Softly ethered
solemnity of hush, a camel's calm
bathing again, in a lucid star, wed
to a stoppered gloss. Heliocentric,
the way light grows along a line
(burn of the shoulders, bearing down)
and tipped to butterfly elves
(the rasp and rattle of her mind)
as we choke on sopranos, sucking
miasma out of a night lawn. Splice
this tablet, that fleece-armed
memory of who's seraphic aperture's
daguerreotyping novices midheaven-
prana, chi, a subjective function
wharfed and whittled into glass, our
transcendental eulogiaic station
depicting layers of her auburn crown.

Apparizione dell'angelo a Zaccaria nel Tempio

Effortless decampment, his wand
intensifying pastures, woollen, dyed
through regal armature, the sullen
humidity of recital catching here.
The centenarians monitor your grin
as you sidle upways, moshing
sans alacrity, their worry-beads
offside; such firmness of thorax,
a density of Vinciesque cartooning
over the riven rock, frieze
and subtle luminosity of hours—
the ludicrous perspective, petalled
in selection after cagey bars.
He's ballading the gospel, she
native to his fugal directive,
loosens all sore cuffs. To ask
what happens in the evening
of a scheming hermeticist, redux.
People passing, ionising acres,
for the catalytic storymakers.

Battistero – Cupola sopra l'altare

Callipers engaging in détente
the throng stepping a grapevine
in small bursts, palmistry enclosing
the secret of ripe velvet, bitten
by a glimmered edifice of faith
plaiting the thoughtful star in dalliance
(pressing the thrones in flashlight)
an interview of vineyard graces.
I'm bashful: acknowledgment
is a walking wavelet, drinking
slips its plastercast, plays on
a parabola of syncopation, dome
charged with apolytikion, diurnal
welcoming of souls, and pearls.
Forbidden to kneel, flame in
a favourite cluster of faces.
Salt dances, preserves the draft
ameliorating the measured tread
ring of hallowed oil on head
the puzzle of circumference.

Sposalizio della Vergine

Her peccadillo always was to soften
(arches of flamingos in the hall),
buttering carpenters a brioche
in a soothing monotone
whose chemistry would vilify
extremes of umbrage. Catseye
leaping into the near-hearted
enclave, a nymph triumvirate
hectoring at the old rigidities
as a swing of gender, stretched
with the humanity of temperature.
A yam's follicle, a soda sponge.
Marriage is a mantra, stirring
interstitial ore, rinsed, wrung
by happenstance and satin
countenance. Conquering malaise
they stealthily astonish the wretched
through a humidity of jugular
in fulminant parousia:
your boat-neck signifies a launch.

Trifono di S. Tommaso d'Aquino – Les Sciences Sacre

Flamboyancy gathers knowledge;
that efficacy in fighting the monstrous
through a shake of dust, a boom
of sonic cavity, clamoured ivy.
Chin in grip of rational advice
furtive in a generous disdain
of evidence; the pharmacy meridian
tough as a cluster of birds
assembling on the legendary bough
of baldaquin, of battlefield.
Who threw that medicine ball?
An antibalm, serrated prescription
condemning the small by design
to imperfected logic, overweight
by canonical procedures, evergreen
otherwise, a federation lawn.
A guru floats, a hermit prays
in all her microcosmic rays,
robes like spectra born of rain
the universe expands again.

Creazione di Eva

Sacerdotal plunge into the flesh
splitting sides, in childhood bypass
freshnesses that can't be said
to be family, dysfunctional as
the natal organics of life
as he thought he knew it (walked
in the gardener's arm, waltzed out
as if from an arc, by two).
Satinate the stretch of skin
seeking gold of fallen robe
from gallant surgery. Her head
born like Venus from a shell of ribs
a foaming solo masterpiece of faith
as if you couldn't suffer enough
through a summons. Take part
of a plumed bird, gun-shot,
an unringed finger leaving out
no sullen multimediatrix
layering time, through foliage,
beckoning, a quizzical olive branch.

La Pala d'Oro

Is it wisdom, holding you in such
reverence, a costly liverage, salute
a million replications of a kiss
missed through a pull of honour
and eyes that blazed in numbness
as I touch you for another
and another spark, biting fear
on the sharp edge, exposure
never seemed easy as words
pooled into poisonous valour
or a nighted hatch, your length
a house of wood, slip courage
into my hands, at last, at all.
We never know the future,
obscure as other people, darker
than an initiation, replete
with echoes prophesying
tenderness, or trouble, pointing us
at an altarpiece, painted deep
in hesitancy and the need to leap.

Ospedale degli Innocenti

Consider my looks
as we touch covers
drawing from raffia significance
a legend of softness, interplayed
under orders to function as two
figments of history
consider my touch
as we look over
indeterminacy as a pledge
of some substance, delayed
while blood courses through
this fragile banality
consider the torch
the gleam of the forge
as air splits soil, condensing
moisture as novel elixir, a drug
speeding old speech to song
through which my elevated sense
seeks blue flames, signature,
a storming of the miniature.

Una Sibilla (2)

Your face is a rich fit
there's luminescence, somewhere
in your background, a ludicrous stammer
leading to the moon's vocality,
a quiet dismissal of modality
as the solution in which to be born
and rise, smiling, into our creation.
Frustrated you might be, by the day's
stars, so I'm familiar with rawness
as tense questions bloom, tabled
by inventive elves, nourished
through catch of gossamer, entire
as life is entire, yet barely drawn.
The lightest trust, a weakness
in my pelt of defences. Brute joy
staggers the outcrop of your sleep,
adrenalin jewelling what you keep
in savoured vigil, waiting games,
the sudden linking of our names.

Madonna di Crevole

Reach for a thimble, a third
icon obviating all the striations
of preciousness upon the velvet
of your voice, the gesture of slowness
a roll of simultaneous pleasure
and nurture of the hazelnut.
Pallor isn't always tremendous,
a lack or splitting of unconsciousness
as the home you winter in, spread
at all the stimulants of flight,
shameless in the blow of night
or jacketed cheaply; you're vulnerable
to a title's allure, blonde rope
as the gateway, chastise me, elope
should predictions admit us
that wild extremity of joy
charging the world, raptured
confluence leading my release;
your strange embrace of stranger peace.

Ultima Cena (particolare)

Because I tried to walk away
tried to stalk the immobility of 'while'
proffering, withdrawing, sympathy
as the twist of snow desiccates harm
as the footsteps conjunct our stream
crassly, backing the chair, we'll waive
those terrors. Diurnal marathon
to succour love at all, whose rented room
alleviates the contract, coming down
to a proportional embrace;
your visual entertainment, supermark
all the idle gossip of five wounds
and consequent insomniac despair.
I'm sorry, prone to emergencies
prioritizing what's known to be familiar
sounding pain behind the doorless cell;
sense of that layout, sensing all too well.
Only this, intransigent and dour,
the brief resuscitation of a flower.

Presentazione di Gesù al Tempio

Bless the infant in the Trianon.
I am perfectly robed as I tell you
my dream of the marbles, my dream
the argument of nutrition, repairing
lost temperature, fluttering passcards
ever the mutual date obscured,
slipper into the colourful campaign
to bring us home. Fog's redundant
breaks not cleared, tea soaked
intimations under palms, sapphire
a hallucination of warranty
and the limits of giving. Please
notice the terrestrial interest
—though for all the skilling on the edge
you'd think me criminally gilt—
trace the elements of covert
kindness, too elementary
to long sustain elation, yet
I'd report the author of the plot
hoping little, reading you a lot.

Madonna in Maesta

Plump with the reality of wonder
that ineradicable line of Greek
questioning her maker, filling out
the ponderous auricle of blessed
interregnum, smoothed design,
the clamour of impressed footmen
contrasting with brutality's dispassion
the road ahead, when a rage
of feathers heralded the seat.
All your education's now unique
and I long to be enlightened
by the fold of your thoughts.
Economies of spiritual connexion
dazed by a bold plan, we lack
a multitude of sanctions, budded
into greenery, yet ordained
to yearn for affirmation, high, higher;
spill like milk, a gentleness
waking up her body's stellar pride
our latent tangibilities collide.

Madonna del Voto

History flows wide of the mark
it's days since I've conspired
for a quick resolution of the mime.
Calcifying smiles, features employed
in the passing of dusky pipes
which resonate the consort
as my spiral of early bones
knit their question, hallowing
an easy sextile of contented
harmony, unshepherded in skin
(the swells and contours intimate
as dark sides, split across this lake).
There's always an invitation,
hovering like harmony,
shuffled and aligned as charity
should you play that song, you'll
call the constellations to alight
cellars yielding drinkables
thinking that you'll percolate
a freezedried heart, in solemn birthday cake.

Nozze di Cana

Incidentally I found you
crossed at all the tender places
able to interpret glances
as the synonym of gifts
your attenuated smile
speaks to me in metamorse
all the richer through long quietness
and the intervals of weeks.
I would give you wine, should I
feel your thirst about my wrists
pulsing in an echolation
of the constancy of fits.
Incrementally I'll sound you
hospitable in small traces
ladelling the old romances
through the synastry of lifts
you're a suiter for a while
stealing on a burning horse
all these pictures of delighting
through the liquor of antiques.

Madonna dagli occhi grossi

Conventional mortal thumbed and blurred
swimming in heterogenous word;
hands are tender and delicate, feet
sullen shining clumps of no defeat.
I'm drawn to the reflective shoulder's velour
the no-pulled punches stare,
no time lost wincing to the side
to temper stolid features there.
The seat's for you alone, broad based
but backless, up to you to straighten
miasma of rumours, ostracised
into square-eyed flight, yet heard
as an autograph of the unknown
possibility of geniture. Leverage
in what rough-hewn artifice
blasts this lassitude aside
and I see us stunned by love's clasp
softened through the sifted wreck;
you were watching for a sign
large and tangled, gone off-line.

Madonna della Misericordia

Under your coat, cracked
mountain, I'm cramped
to the side of yearning. Sheer
timeline of kindling, annunciate
arcane fossils of becoming, show
them now, replete, dissolved
into a text; this red-hand verse.
Re-introduce a frequency
over the social buzz of strolling
life (the flimsy article), a name
shelved between schedules, dig
under downy platitude;
discover millennial injury, make
good the discovery, curl
treasures from revisionary dust;
orbit unconceivable souls
establishing a closer than
the middle distance, dance
into my skin, lighter
than sheets of addresses.

Ritratto d'un signore nel suo studio

Secrecy ascribed to vellum,
your keys are hanging everywhere,
traced by lizards, you're brooding
over what's faced by words
tabletop-scattered, sacralist,
tutored for an unlit score, serve
honourability on sufferance.
The letters distract you, declare
a supernature of the heart
though you'll take an age to learn
the difference of instinction
less the reason, than completion,
you'll turn with your forefinger,
fly me down. Cold air
afflicts like egrets, bitter, sweet,
I'm plummeting beneath your knees
or looping overtide, eventual,
a ruffled slit of silk, a spinning rag.
Check the paragraph, look back
to the night you felt that lack.

Trasferimento della Casa Santa da Nazareth a Loretto

In the street, my dreams show up
cleanless, more alert to trouble
such as the blush of rages
peeling an extemporised allusion
to make you feel; at home
simple lavender attracts
accreditation as a navigator
through the boundless hours, thin
myocardial walls, contract, sign
in to inhabitation, outreach,
broadcast of a wasteland.
There's a flurry if we walk
in mackerel skies, thunder
scowls, interested, should this
turn into more than a turn
of primaries, flood sepia,
play about, a concerto
of retrenchment, even joy?
Intersect the rhythm of detention;
spy the transposition unalloyed.

Capriccio of a Colonnade

Mathematics was never so pliable
as blossom leading to comfort of apples
the oar of a strophic victory
in soaking magazine pages
effortless, desultory, I'll flick
ash or lashes into line
(while I must not victimise
any shining knight may do)
shrugging off patronage, to
bolt into arms, strong-spun,
you calculate something of infinity
ignoring your vacatory split
rowing through dense orchards
a resolution of armouries
mosaicing rings of Saturn.
A losing trade in meteorites
can't help your belief;
does this equation of the Grail
extenuate the plough?

Annunciazone dell'Angelo a Maria

The air connects us.
Friendship fires the line; it isn't
that I'm guided by this cut
I dreamt your heart sustained, whetted
in extraordinary pasts, all exes lost.
I'd rather scrub those garments
in your company, the suds rising,
sublimates of sentimental marsh
our evolution clarified. Drink to this
like lunar crystal sharding ice.
I'm pelted, you're volcanic.
Rotation of the arc, signalling
with beauty of its own, dangerous, swift,
coating dailiness with rays
that wait with tremor, and surmise.
The elements have history
the universe, an intimacy
as tangible as melted snow,
the thought of your home, our conversation
touching the fragility of music.

Il Tributo, particulare testa di Cristo

Age is no deciding factor
as we reverse out of the slump,
bronzed in a flick of hair,
eyes shelled from their simmering.
The time of birth is a moot point,
some saying the flashpoint is all,
some that the pain haunts the castle,
rolling to an inevitable embrace.
Office hours, internalised, personal
commendation of the forest,
(as the book hints, gaze at him)
a solitude that bleeds when taken there.
With sorrow's intention, weariness
lends a shrug to empathy,
we're substantially water,
plastered by fantastic colour
a wall of erudition, of a mask
to protect those cherished lines
I learnt to stretch, by gut.

Allegoria della Chiesa

My attitude's no plenitude.
Hedging in and out, love's a maze
appointing no relief. Turn
your head, I could be sitting on a rock:
into rugged readers, loose belief.
Kindness half be-cottoned; stance
a gestural ambivalence like pain.
Hope fading out, then warming up again;
I can hardly kid myself we're home,
the tides reverse. Paths allotted burns,
tested histories alarmed to roost.
I long to hold a compass, take a charm,
unspinning damage, alleviating pressure,
in the lower zone, abrasions swarm.
Initiation's a damn, welling up,
lapping at a party or a dance
(haberdashery the main expense).
Overcoming opportune romance, daily's
the thing, the chasm, the deduction
from the lonely contours of this map.

Mary Awaiting an Answer

Waiting is women's work.
I don't imagine that you're sitting there,
picturing the wrenching touch of loss
or its converse, reddening at thought
of how sweat sings, and tears.
There's quietness in agony, a nothing
to be done, a darkening.
I think my face impassive, after
the fracture of separation, sudden
even though the end foresaw the start.
Rings do their work, and break.
My veil enraptures me. I'm still
a little slow to read (I tend towards)
your psalmic innuendo as a pledge,
—the time this seems to take—
our temperature failing to incite
release, or condemnation. I sit
tight, as loyal, as subject, to your grace;
the game of our unwinding
suffers me this corner of a place.

Conclusion: Water

Sea Lover

You and I, gradually
interpreting that dance
we've practised, quietly, for years
as a stretch of grace
a loosening of lines
delineating your defence, or mine
I'm leading, though you set
the music breathing on my skin
(feetsoles exposed);
tautology of etiquette
demanding that we linger
on the boundary of touch
ambivalently signing
the willingness to risk
as in the choreography of chance,
your gentleness is dark
deferral of the flood
of enervated voltage
the chords between us sing
the light between us hurts

The Baptism of the Neophytes

The expression of your testament
flows skin to sublimate. Come here,
process until the plateau floods, and
time repaints that moment to the wall,
your mouth bruised with faith.
Life's torrential, a brush of flesh,
your collage of submission. You
can only push at love so much,
—spending rain in reparation—
thought that hurts confessed in free dimensions,
lifted through speech to the eye's
pigment, a touslement of fruit,
soft-eyed in tension's handling.
I'll read again our slow transections,
the critical refluxes of despair
harbouring innocence, a glance of light
wreathing narrativity
like velvet in the raw, you're
surviving the ache of smoke,
the fire that clouds us up.

William Slaughter, Editor
Department of English & Foreign Languages
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, Florida 32224-2645


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Contents | Mudlark No. 14