Mark Rutter

The Anti-Space The Mirror-Place A Palace

Where lifesized statues of medieval queens
passed through me to strains of distant music,
ice-skated over the floors of the corridor
in their embroidered finery. All around
the streets were crowded with the walking dead
and beyond stretched deserts filled with massed
statues topped with bird heads. This is the place
of kaliflowers, this is the place for
people on their way out. A maze of streets
all golden walls and slabs, the city is
an image of memory, of accrued time
and the traces of the past, its alleys
and streets a concrete brain swarming with thoughts.
A strangely haunting place, that city, full
of seductive luxuries. For example:
Elizabeth Taylor flavoured chocolates.

Homage To Andrei Tarkovsky

By what characteristics may we know the divine forms?
The picture never quite becomes clear, is succeeded
by a gallery of blurred faces, painted in and painted out
by wing and tail feather. The quality of light
down in the stacked ice, blackfly larvae
clinging to pebbles, facing into the stream’s flow:
scenes arise and vanish, with that hissing sound
behind my ears. A spider whose web weighted with dew
is a galaxy. Every now and again outlines sharpen, colours
deepen, all sounds aspire to music. I have forgotten so much.
There are phantoms among the trees at the clearing’s edge,
as if spring issued from a cocoon of ghosts. That morning
I stole out of my body half-transparent mandolins
hung on the walls, so delicately made they were like
diagrams drawn on glass. I move at the speed of high
drifting cirrus over the pine woods, I am the wind.
Shadows of maple leaves falling among sunlit pinecones,
like reflections shifting on a pool’s surface, many small hands
gesticulating in a classroom full of children. And the ferns
of the world conspire to twine together out of the void,
in keeping with the woodcock’s eyes. Morning sunlight
slanting low through aspens, new leaves lit up
in a greengold mosaic, gently breeze-swayed. Curious
pebbles, hints of lichen, appear underfoot as a super-vivid
cartoon. Black letters hibernate in the skull’s scrolls.
Such effortless flowing, rhythms more subtle
than free verse: shifting of bees in the wildflowers.
From under my feet it flew, and checked me in its sight,
over last autumn’s leaves. Nature is infinitely prodigal
and it is in us, now, the one is reconciled to the many.
I flew among them, invisibly caressing them,
like the wind through a field of fireflies. A flock of
blackbirds filled the room with noisome wings.
In looking at objects in the fog, waves washing
the unreal rocks, I seem to be seeing
a symbolical language, something in me that
already exists: fireflies adrift in the dusk, seen
through a dewy windowpane. The edenic is a wavelength
we tune into suddenly: everything is always already
transmitting on this frequency, our dials tuned elsewhere
by necessity, we say. And over the great moor pitted
with ruined farmhouses, broken stone walls, the seasons
changing rapidly as I walk: sometimes it is midsummer,
sometimes snow covers the bracken. Music colours time
with strands of different pigments. The patterns
of light on water rippled by the wind. To and fro birdsong
across the clearing: a poem and its spaces. A wasp nest
in alder scrub, paper head hung from bare twigs.
The cold hand of my long dead grandfather shaking my hand.
Ice orchestra. Sometimes, unexpectedly, certain sounds,
as if washed clean of all intervening experience, ring
clear and unencumbered. Lying on my back in the snow,
warm as a bear, sniffing the arctic wind. My mother
turns the key in the cupboard door and leads me through
to a room I’ve never seen before, long unused, windows
curtainless, dust on the floor. These are everyday sounds,
like birdsong, the wind in the aspens, waves breaking
on the shoreline pebbles, you humming in the kitchen
with the bees in the field as accompaniment. Sea
of Tranquillity. A black pencil cancelling and writing
refutations in the margins of thought. Early May cloudy days
like a waiting room in a station in the middle of nowhere.
Remember when you were a child and the world
was a painting of god? The breeze shakes the bare
hawthorn, a wrinkled hand shakes a dead light bulb.
Fish leap in the shallows in the eye of the kingfisher.
But why Creation, why not just Oneness?
It was a summer night, there was a charge in the air,
as if before a storm. Woodland creek’s calligraphy
on ear’s vellum, each pebble sounding clear, inscribed
upon the incoiled page. August grasshoppers singing
like telephone wires. If a man could pass through Paradise
in a dream, and have a flower presented to him
as a pledge that he had really been there, and
if he found the flower when he awoke – Aye! and what then?
It saw me from its inclosed inscape, that world of impressions
that are those of a woodcock. There is a constant pressure,
as of buildings lowering themselves onto our heads.
The voices in the aspens, leaves lit up by the morning sun.
Osprey landing: between its claws it holds a silver world.
Wherever I walk the hills extend themselves in every direction.
Inside the coffins in the ruined house we found the Surrealists:
Max Ernst looks like Uncle Fester, Breton is a ghoul. Slowly,
on the wall opposite, a picture formed inside an ornate frame,
and within it a portrait came into focus, as if painted
by the tail feathers of birds. A pileated woodpecker
flew into the aspens and vanished, its crested head poked out
of the nest hole, from which coign it eyed me. The one remains,
the many change and pass. Moon halo. Little to go on
but hints. An occluded absolute inapprehensible
absolutely, but whose periphery can be traced in hollow trees,
trunks twisted together, an inventory of things glimpsed
in dreams, the texture of moss and lichen on the roots of pines.

Two collections of Mark Rutter's poems appeared in the US, where he lived from 1990-2002. Since his return to the UK his poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Other Poetry, Magma, Snakeskin and roadrunner.
previous page     contents     next page



Post a Comment

<< Home