Two Poems

Robin Robertson

Manifest

Try to reconstruct me from the heraldry of the flesh,
the thick blur of scar tissue, shreds of clothing,
that burst vessel in the eye like a twist in a marble,
those frost-feather wrinkles at the side of the mouth,
the sagittal crest, the arteries’ complicated reds,
flakes of semen, the blonde hair at the nape of the neck
of either of my daughters, that cipher of birthmarks,
saliva on the whisky glass, the weight of the brain,
the weight of the heart, the bolus of the last meal,
the trace of morphine in the nails and in the grey hairs
of the chest, blood-string in the stool, gall-stones,
an ankle-spur, the retina’s code, the death-mask,
life-mask, the bowel’s gleet, the maze of fingerprints,
ruined teeth, signatures of taint and septicaemia,
the body’s hieroglyphic marks, its flayed accoutrements,
this paraphernalia of clues; but you will never find me.
Shall I tell you? Shall I tell you the secret? My whole life.

Answers

when mussels bud from every tree
when the fox lies down with the goose
when the sun and moon dance on the green
and oranges fruit in the bramble bush

when all streams run together
when all the streams stand still
when the cuckoo calls in winter
and water rolls back to the top of the hill

when herring swim the mountain lake
when their feathers sink like stars
when blackbirds fish the salt-sea wave
and the rabbit picks at the buzzard’s heart

when seals come walking up from the bay
and nightfall begins with the morning dew
when daffodils open on Christmas Day and you see
a crow as white as a dove
I will return to you, my love, I will return to you