When we make love

(i)

When we make love
our bodies fly out of themselves

through the open window,
land in the tubs and shrubbery

and, brushing themselves of earth,
hurtle upwards, graze the pale

palings, and pounce like mouths
on the fat strand of liqourice

which passes for road, bounce
in a bundle, up and also over

the dark, sparking chimneys,
land draggled in the vegetable

matter of allotments, hot,
and roll like a tongue of tar

down the old railroad deserted
and stripped of its sleepers,

ricochet through rubble, glass,
the screech of playground swings,

all the dogs unleashed, barking
mad as a midnight beneath a

melony moon, and gather in
bulbous impossible bubbles and suds

to crowd the sky with fire,
burn, they burn, and they never return.

*

(ii)

When we make love
our bodies untether themselves

by folding the half-light
into harlequin diamonds, and leave it

draped in a trellis of shadows
across the soft shift of sheet,

and scald and blanch the shapes
we make of ourself, by heating

the air into steam, shake each other
as if we were dancing scarves

that might turn into swirls
of sparkle, gasping for darkened shoulders

across which to be flung,
ripple the room into gossip, and drop

every pretence, the syllables daft
and crazy, words only sequins

which twinkle on the lingering
twist of our tongues, scandals breaking

by the minute, sighs, fresh, so hot
from the press that their whispers

shimmy, skiff the skin's surface, kisses
uncaulked for the slow moment

when the sky is a wild wish,
weep, they weep, and they circle like sleep.

*


(iii)

When we make love
our bodies throw off their dreaming

and dink like fish into rivers
where wherries nudge each other above them,

far, hearing only the deafened tremors
of stray lights surfing the currents

before dawn, skip arcs of the dark
to play the fugitive, to shoot like spooks

through a closing iris, ruffle the water's
feathers, open the waiting ocean

for its saltbreath, its chorus of brine,
and rustle each other like gauze

when the lisp of shallows is heard
to humour the moon, crescent,

clouds rising shyly beside it, and
spirit their way through the rushes

in the swim, in the swim of its
whimsy, shuddering under the long boom

until lost in the rip, diving always
into the sweet scent of harbours,

search the wedges of cliff, breathe in
the blown white smoke of the spray

while the sky is scattering petals,
wait, they wait, and the sea is in spate.

*


(iv)

When we make love
our bodies are pure convolvulus,

the wax of candles releasing
wreaths of smoke around our throats

until our voices thread themselves
like rosary fingers counting hours,

they relinquish their cries
like dark angels loosening light

from their satin shawls
over a stolen moment, out on the

fringe of existence, their ankles
dusted by quick iridescence,

wind themselves into each other
until they are one whirl only,

a vanishing pattern of spirals
climbing like bines, their limbs

are transparent as distant air
on a cusp of horizon, the hills

locked in a tussle of sleep,
are visible only as the first

and final haze of the day,
as pale as nothing, paler perhaps,

but glazing the sky, changing it,
leave, they leave, and the seas do not grieve.


*
(v)

When we make love
our bodies open like wide, wide eyes

on a landscape of longing, they play
rascal, hopscotch, or a half-remembered

hornpipe, and fetch themselves mirrors
to glimpse a delirium, medleys of song which

quilters have stitched into maps,
startle flights of flirting birds

skywards, until flusters of cloud
swallow their wings with a gasp,

and whoop up horizons, lope and dodge
hills and rivers on whim, and they wheel

over fields of molten glass, green,
in whose rumpled mirrors they watch

their havoc of image, like splash-happy
tears in a scrimmage of laughter,

pausing mid-air, in the catch of a drift,
to blend themselves into the current,

like smoke into sunlight, and they touch,
far above the land, its parallelograms

of passion, a scatter of angles,
hurtle the hedges, the criss of their kisses

from the height of the sky, its breeze
fast, fast, till their shadows are cast.

*

(vi)

When we make love
our bodies do not lie upon the lip

of the light fantastic, but live
in the here and then and there of the real,

where you can sever an echo
with the silverback of a syllable,

and they shiver like cymbals
brushed by the sun, where the smatter

of our mouths on each other's
lids and lashes is a painless tinnitus

in which nothing flickers except
the ticking of our hearts, and rippling

across our skin, unflinching, there comes
the skeeter of pleasure's panic,

they play an uneven polka, and they tease
out the threads of every second

until our faces are resting castanets
almost oblivious of the rioting

orchestra in our thighs, the quiet
hammer of our hands while the

anvils within us are thudding gently,
juddering till their fireflies, embers,

startle the sun from sleep, and
wake, they wake, and their tides roll, and they break.

From the book Love Poems

for Eithne