Culprits

The searchlights caught us, culprits:
we were waxing the blacker shadows
with the chamois of our faces, when
bang, the clean blench of the beams.
Bones rose and fell on our cheeks.

They ushered us forward, shushing
our frantic lips. Out of our bags
we fished damaged alibis - the sort
nobody sees these days. They were frayed,
folded, spattered with cracks of wax.

They opened them, poring the small
print, smudging the amber ink with
stubs of intrusive finger. We pressed
our palms against the parched brick,
shutting our limpet eyelids.

Your alibi was a nightmare
cooked up from incredible scraps
and fabric. You had been searching
the rubble for some crumbling papers,
samizdat copies of another life.

Mine was a quick farrago
trumped up from improbable document:
it claimed an improper interest,
impeccably vetted, in the composition
of forgeries and blotted copybooks.

Needless to say, they believed us.
Anyone with our sheer effrontery,
or number of our convictions, could
pull the wool. They seemed to trust
the integrity of our naked lies.

The next night we clambered back,
mined the night's bland corners
for evidence. We turned turves,
brick, tangles of wire, glass,
in a wicked and protracted forage.


Once, hunting through dull debris,
exchanging a bandy of indiscretions,
you pulled something violently to light.
We examined it. We had found it:
it was the moment we first met.

From the book Love Poems