Nowhere to go now, he wanted to stay
where stars go clicking off and on,
sun turning into moon and back again.
Where the city ends night begins,
day billows back soft clouds. I wake,
he told her, something gnaws at me to say
until words die on the tongue unspoken.
Paula was going to do what she could
as wife what love had never done for her
where streets led one way and life the other,
where water falls away from waterfall,
a body confined to railings
and walking in circles to catch the spray
that never touches unless the wind blows.
But wive she would not. Nor would he husband.
He started reading Wulf and Eadwacer
and discovered the rest of it missing
until someone said poetry like that
back then was spoken not versed and reversed,
besides woman mourning man was old hat,
ten centuries passed just like that.
You are on that island, she said, with me
marooned on this one. Come free me fast
before I, big with child, die with music
trapped in my throat. Life’s become but a scale
to run, a refrain to hear melody
I need more than you now that sound holds me
captive, all wisdom vacant in these men.
To my people one who offered battle
will be welcome if he threatens to come.
Nothing will save us that we thought or lived.
My Wulf is over there, sea surrounded
I here. If he come I dare hope, but where
are those who will do nothing but battle.
Wulf, you have gone and stayed when I was sick
and lonely. In the rain your smell left me,
soon your rival’s touch I welcomed warmed me,
no need to leave now. Old love is the whelp
of a cur you made in me, the winds flush
through the tree branches sagging with children.
Do you hear, Eadwacer, the forest cry?
I grasp the knife with purpose, I plunge it
and widen the slash until life pours out
easily, what we never were was joined.
He bathed my body in the sea with his.
I glimpsed his soul, his body loved me more.
Bobby unriddles what is not to be.
He does no harm. He does no good. He fails.
Why praise the dead. Nothing is born of words,
they do not build the frame, walls, roof, windows
of this house in need of a floor for feet,
and the wind comes through cracks we never closed.
We are in love and we are lost at sea.
(11, 30 June 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander