The trees outside my window are dense.

Out there a man could lose his self;

grow his hair, brother the deer. The trees

know the past will be present again;

if not in the bark, then in the mulch.


When we were boys we could hear so well

the waves sanding the cliff. But we could not

see the edge. The four of us running

and cutting in the crowded dusk towards

the push of gravity. One night I got lost

and the wet branches fingered my face.

I’d never had a woman but when I did,

I’d remember how the earth was a velvet suck.

I took off my shirt, wrapped it tourniquet tight

round a stick and – with my brother’s zippo

– lit it up.


I can still see my flame out there;

my hair shank long, fingers sharp.


First published in Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, 2010.