woman on the pebbles will kill or be killed
asphalt river, hear ye
though I’ve sat where torrents recall no slush
I’m drawn by your ceramic explosions
your waves snapped underneath and smoothed over
with clothes laid in respect
there are beads of patience in this fell river
not where ants carry ants but where between bites
enamelled flesh can be tapped to purge freezing oils
where the cuff lavender is brought alive to claw to earth
where we are buried to stay cool and grow white hands
to reach and tuber, and come to fruition and bask without a song

 

so be drowned or drown over exposed leaves shaking
restless lover, who’s keeping their feet wet
carved sweat and toes resplendent knife upwards through satin
to coil imprints around the upright stones
and mark an embrace before evaporation

 

I am repeating on you
this body is a factory, this room, a weaker shade of tea
molluscs have been sun-dried and clasp to the billowing wood
margined by choke, unchinked and unshafted, flecking tremulous
and I’d rather root without than soot in synthetic barbered grass
and smiles of parcelled glue
when there are births of teased and tortured glimpse
to be tweezed or cuticled from the corpse of morn
I won’t dive unless I know the pebbles aren’t rasped
or fill a cup with oil, or clothe a gasp in brick
or seek respite in lists and chat, or segway to a revolution, while

 

my love has gone among the fields to fashion me a yearning
he was half-buried in tarmac when we met
to make himself chaste: with his lute fricking he charms scimitars!
he is a silver fish in the backwash!
and how am I to explain this beetle on my breast?

 

boats full of stones are held and sunk by knotted necks
green swans, nappies round catkins
the soft rabbit fingers of the weeping willow, shorn at the wrist
this creased life we live beneath pages, in surfaces
we air-condition panic and would rather waste ink
than miss a chance to bite

 

this volume is dirty
skirts can only rustle now
peel winter off in cracks, and wrinkling hours, jellied, impoverished,
spoilt milk and spilt sleep
better the life in the bubble of privilege
basking fingers in slipped through sun
on the seam in the wall from the half-cut window
better the cack femme manages fate
than banal judges grid us to oblivion

 

 

 

 

Photograph © David Spencer


This poem appears in Walton’s debut collection, Self Heal, forthcoming from Boiler House Press. Order your copy here.

Candidate
Sharing the same bed, dreaming different dreams