I Would Be…

I Would Be…

  1. Sleeping Lion

I would be your lion,

With a forehead broad and blunt and strong,

Eyes wide and wise and fierce.

You would sleep safe

Held in my heavy bones and soft padded paw

The rumble of my easy growl your lullaby.

Your hands clenched

In the deep softness of my mane

Uncoil in easy sleep.

But I am a man.

Not iron in fang and paw-

Eyes veiled darting and tight.

Your racing heart flees sleep

The lumpen shadow of my sleeping ridge

Is a quilted horizon on the edge of things.

Your hands clenched

Around themselves

Try to grip the spate of thought

In the dark river of your mind.

2. Northern Whale

I would be your whale

A strong back, black and supple

Cutting through grey northern water

Circling the frail boat

Rocking the deck,

Rolling to hold you in my still, dark eye.

Indifferent and proud in your gaze-

Your amazed gaze- the heavy pleats of my throat

My garland of bubbled breath

Making the dark water clear

For a moment

And then gone.

But I am a man

A summer swimmer

In the shallows of warmer seas

A pallid ribbon of flesh

Curving through the blue Cypriot bay

In a forgotten photograph.

A smile hauled back from Aphrodite’s sea,

That glitters, twitches and lies still.

A poor fish, drowning in air.

3. Plough Horse

I would be your plough horse

Fit and willing and true.

Ready- standing at your gate.

“The willing horse gets the work”

And waits for the old embrace,

The apple slice, soft white and red

Taken in lips delicate and strong

From nervous fingers

Is crushed to sweet froth

Filling my mouth

My whole head, with taste

That shudders through the slabs of my flanks.

But I am a man.

I kneel and cut and hammer.

I lay a floor in the old cottage.

A hunched creature

Who thinks and frets and

Swallows thoughts not sweet.

Who walks the Western beach,

Tide and step softly grinding

the murmuring shingle.

To find some rest-

To find some rest he never reaches.

Except in you

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