Magnesium

John Levett

It might as well be gaslight now
That soughs and pouches through the trees,
Lost pockets of foxed sepia,
The silver, pollen-haunted sneeze
Of sunshine and magnesium
Caught in the filter of her veil,
Uplifted faces drained and dumb,
Each smile a failing chemical
That hovers in the nitrate’s mist
Where moth-like cousins, lunar aunts
In gauze and satin gloves persist
Through acid-eaten radiance.

There will be mustard-gas, morphine,
Candescent flash-backs, shell-burst skies,
Iron lamps whose phutterings sustain
Blown corpses’ phosphorescent sighs,
But in the soft hiss of this flare
Time stops to oxidise his face,
Shakes out behind her carboned stare
Annihilations of white lace,
As light implodes and leaves a husk,
A stiff, wing-collared, dried-up glow
Still holding back the brim of dusk
Where all their shining futures go.