Alison Croggon


there bees were perpetual as meadows asleep in a brooding sun
or a curlew recalled as a mirror of all sadness

no one could tell if it was day or night
they always slept on the silk of their delusions
wherever they fell
in the dust of libraries or among the soft
vegetations of sensual musings

no one was certain either of borders
and therefore the citizens were courteous to strangers
continually puzzled by familiarities
as if they were siblings raised in the same hayfield
or perhaps cousins suckled on the same wolf
as if the face before them chimed
like bells on an alien planet

they were too shy to compare fingerprints
it could have been that each whorl matched exactly
and so their harmonic voices
drifted through the grasses like a cloud of questions
waking lizards and beetles from innocence
and flowers hastening after rain

but every now and then a citizen would wake
with a phrase in her head that she couldn’t explain
and found the libraries were silent

then she would walk through the humming streets
past refineries and docklands beyond the knowledge of cities
until she found a rock inhabited by no voice
perched on a mountain with no history
and there she would breathe an air without language
pure and violent as a galaxy

and only then would the veins in her feet
tell how cold the ground was and how bloodless

how unlike death
which laboured hotly in those other cities
she saw teeming beneath the torn sky
so far from the home she could never return to
now that it never existed