Charles Wilkinson


                                                 step by step stay
                                     the shadow true, a shortened
                                 stride pays out time, seconds
                                     swell within a minute, clouds
                                 crawl on a bend of blue, days
                                     prolong the rule of light, a wide
                                 view of dwelling slow, hours
                                      to fix bright green to grass
                                 so shape & colour will not divide,
                                    ‘half frozen in a moment, which
                                                  takes a year to pass’

                                                 in quiet harbour
                                     little lapping, lento, oh
                                 lento, furled soft on the quayside, 
                                     so slack the wind & still the port,
                                   the tall-mast ships caught sand-cradled
                               at low tide, & far off shore
                                     the currents drag in down of deep,
                               beneath the froth & eider foam,
                                      the darkest bed becomes a home,
                               & racing worlds lie tightly wrapped
                                           in slow waves asleep.

flat out at dusk, yet innocent of haste,
man in an armchair & a paste-grey sky.
the stasis of high pressure in winter.
blood lags, scarcely driven by the heart,
sluggard in the chest; boredom claggy
in the veins; only the one eye alert
for a slow adjustment in the weather
scripting the cracks in the ice, the fir
trees frozen black to the hillside,
a last pink seen for a second, draining
to melt-water on the horizon, the moon’s
gratin blur stuck on the board of night;
& there’s but one near-white cloud,
collapsing beneath adze-tracks tarred
with dark, its edges curled: shavings 
from the coffin-maker’s work: stand
up & touch the wood: sentir le sapin  


the heat, slamming down, lifts the haze off the pavement: 
    the world ahead melts soft, twisting in the shimmer,  
the blackest lines flow & slip their shapes, remoulded 
    as forgeries in air, the objects fake & fluid; 
& at night looking up reminds of pinhole suns 
    that pierce the sky, then blur with travelling glimmer, 
 to give out & give us yesterdays of starlight. 
   here, the man walking remembers his dead lover, 
lost at the depth of dark in the waves of midday,
    & the sky’s a white page held to the sun; past days 
seem time-bleached, her face washed into a watermark. 


                                           i.m. Emanuel Swedenborg

so the fields not brightening sheets that snow now could launder, for cleansing is elsewhere – the earth endures in the furrows: forever fingerprints: the stain soil engrained in impure hands. perfection’s foiled till the flesh burns off, down to a ribbon of ash, & today no interceding sun through soft cloud, its blue tress of rain; now is less than half way to whiteness: an all grey sky, not clearing to a page; always speech-scratch against silence, those nothing loud words despoiling the leaf. then night & a blanched rib of moon proposes the whole man predominant under the darkness, though near hidden now; then declining into light, we walk into the next room, & life’s attending to the new body, its way to shine.
Charles Wilkinson’s work includes The Pain Tree and Other Stories (London Magazine Editions). His poems have been in Poetry Wales, Poetry Salzburg (Austria), Shearsman , The Reader, New Walk, Magma, Under the Radar, Tears in the Fence, Scintilla, Envoi, Stand,, The Warwick Review, Otoliths, Snow lit rev and other journals. A pamphlet, Ag & Au, came out from Flarestack Poets in 2013. He has two collections of weird fiction and strange tales, both from Egaeus Press: A Twist in the Eye (2016) and Splendid in Ash (2018). His full-length poetry collection, The Glazier’s Choice, appeared from Eyewear in 2019.
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