Three Ways of Looking at God
A claustrophobia of sand and Stone: a walled heat.
The light bleaches and curves like a blade, isolates
the chirr of crickets, seed-pods detonating,
the valley waiting in a film of flame.
A bird finds an open channel in the air
and follows it without exertion to the branch.
The sky is slashed like a sail. Night folds
over the shears, the dye, the docked tails.
We listen to the rumours of the valley:
goats´ voices, gear-changes, the stirring of dogs.
In the Green light, lambs with rouged cheks
skitter from their first communion, calling for home.
Lightning flexes: a man chalked on a board,
exact, elementary, flawed; at each kick, bird
and scatter from the white lawn.
The long trees bend to the grain of the gale,
streaming the dark valley like riverweed.
All night: thunder, torn leaves; a sheathing of wings
She said her name was Alice,
that she´d studied with the geisha
in Japan, and was trained and able
in the thousand ways of pleasuring a man.
We´d share some shots of whisky
–her favourite brand, Black Label–
then she´d knock them back, and drink me
under the table.
In the time it took to hold my breath
and slip under the bathwater
–to hear the blood-thud in the veins,
for me to rise to the surface–
my parents had died,
the house had been sold and now
was being demolished around me,
wall by wall, with a ball and chain.
I swim one length underwater,
pulling myself up on the other side, gasping,
to find my marriage over,
my daughters grown and settled down,
the skin loosening
from my legs and arms
and this heart going
like there´s no tomorrow.
Robin Robertson, FRSL (born in Scone, Perthshire 1955) is a Scottish poet. He is the author of Euripides (Harper Collins, 2014), Bacchae,Sailing the Forest (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014) and Hill of Doors (Picador, 2013) among others.