He lies frayed sleeves along oregon beams:
A sinister minister streaming rainbows;
watches the desperate men and leaves
black sweat where he goes.
His glass eye reflects a mile of truss
cutting through the dawn;
tear mantilla or a tiny mirror
in which all is indifferently shown.
Ripping the guts out of tree stumps,
there’ll be no pedestals here.
A new frontier to save us all
through hard work and prayer.
As the skyline tightens testudo
a carriage draws into town,
waits quietly like a blind bomb
causing the reverend to frown.
A little breeze strikes the dust
into dancing wheels at bootlaced feet.
Her father and his son emerge
in billowing clouds of keef.
Rolling it over easy
Reverend Oscar Arbelow
lemniscate saunters, lightly
arriving at the trio.
‘There’s no beds yet; rooms not built
if you plan to stay, but the
barn is yours that borders the corn
a little out from here.’
The father nods; the son just turns
Merrylees has rich brown eyes
which watch intelligently.
Later that eve when all are asleep
the wind rushes clouds past the moon;
light sucks in and out like those blessings
which fail to reach the doomed.
The preacher stalks his frontier town
having little need of rest
and Merrylees is there, at the edge of the field
one hand lying on her breast.
‘I know you want a different life from what
your kin have shown but the pain of
a thousand years can be healed -
In a year you will have flown.’
To this strange speech, Merrylees turns:
How did he read her mind?
The moon sleeps in his dead black eye;
the live one stirs in kind.
An impulse cleaves her deep within;
she moves to touch his face.
Divining her intent, he ducks
then breathes, ‘Noli me tangere.’
He leaves her then;
crow-like. Sky lightening.
Wrapped in the ghost of her caress:
something soft, misplaced and frightening.
Merrylees’ quick intake of breath:
hot gold igniting eyes that dim.
Eyes that reflect a mile of truss
cutting through the West.