Sehnsucht (Saudade)

Empty thoughts – a dry river in the night:

Of wanderers condemned to replay – and enjoy –
a game whose rules are crossed
so we can never win, but only hope,
repeatedly forgetting the result.
Mere humans and yet more:
we, the godless, and our longing.

Of our strange mistress – unkind,
unsentimental, alien and rare –
who consumes our fat and leaves us lean
transfiguring what’s left until
we are transformed in her devotion
so that at last we’re marrowed bones
transfixed by our desires;
covenanted to the most elusive of ideas
in which, in truth, we had no choice but to believe.

Of a futile longing, for some thing unknown,
someone half-glimpsed, disguised, unrecognised.
How can this feel so much was lost?

Sehnsucht ( Saudade )

Empty thoughts: a dry river in the night.
Condemned to forever replay – and enjoy –
a game whose rules are crossed
so we can never win, only hope;
endlessly forgetting the result.
More real than a clear sunrise
on a beautiful cold morning
because it touches us directly;
mere humans and yet more.
We, the godless, and our longing.

Our strange mistress, unkind,
unsentimental, alien and strange,
consumes our fat and leaves us lean,
transfiguring what’s left,
transformed in her devotion,
until at last we’re bones,
transfixed by our desires;
committed to that most elusive of ideas,
in which, in truth,
we had no choice but to believe.

A futile longing, for some thing unknown,
someone half-glimpsed, disguised,
never possessed, only borrowed, perhaps hired.
How can this feel so much was lost?
What way is there to prove this concept?

(originally published in a different version, January 2013)

Mirroring

Eyes shut:
eyelids closed against the slanting sun
seen orange-gold, red-amber ground,
beaten thin and worn by passages of time,
scratched by age in faded might-be runes,

sprung from light and penetrating warmth
shadow-flashed by rushing images
on stretched-wide silver overlay –
a bright tarnishable distraction.

Eyes open:
stood still and cold and insignificant
beneath a springing vault,
celestial pale and perfect blue
with hints of its infinity,

lit from behind by first sunlight
reaching out to strike the topmost mast,
steel beyond the barewood tracery,
a mark of beauty in the everyday.

Those eyes that looked in vain
when young and wide,
for the parents’ absent glance
and found bare eyes instead averted;

forged asunder and unready
in savage lack of primal bonds,
consigned a lifelong blank of longing
for what was sought and missed;

now hooded, searching for reflection
every day in someone’s eyes, a trace
to mirror spark and recognise;
no substitute but maybe some replacement?

Ourselves alone, deserted by our guide,
companioned by our siren compass voice,
familiar halting exposed unsure
while seeming confident and strong.