A Broken Hand
from In Memoriam, 1987

My dreams trouble me far into the night,
The stillness of the room, the longing
For the tick of an absent clock,
All the trials banished during the long day
Come back for sentencing in the dark hours.
The silence drags confessions from my numbness:
But I am innocent! I cry, wearily.
But if the world can hear me
It fails to give response.

I embrace the tangle of sheets
Like the phantom lover it is.
Is it too late to repent and welcome sleep?
Listening to my breathing
I hear someone's uncertainty,
Someone's unwanted solitude.
Nostalgia beckons with the memory of a Love
Known to be a desire; an affection spurned
After all the long years of closeness,
All the stolen moments of warmth.
Even now the ancient fear comes back
In times of crisis: the fear of being caught,
Tried and sentenced.

Have I been damaged by those September afternoons
Avoiding windows, panicking at footfalls
In the garden outside? I envy your ability
To joke at our adolescent awkwardness.
You taught me how to want.
Now it is I who lies awake in remembrance.
Who cannot look at you without
Making you remember also.

Like irritating buzz of a stubborn hornet
We perform the same steps at each meeting,
Fixed as moth and flame.
I used to feel I had been cheated
Out of something special.
Today you refute our friendship
Yet acknowledge our past closeness.
So perhaps an ember still glows
In the ashes of our history,
Trapped between extinction
And self-loathing immolation.

(for David)