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On the Beach:  Logos               Visitors

         A Shadow Fugue           A Dutch Interior


On the Beach:  Logos


You echo the smooth skin of rock and sea

in curves of shoulder, willing nakedness;

a silhouette still secret in undress,

moon-flecked with blue like lichen on a tree.


Logos and sea between your spread thighs spread,

as you stand flinging syllables of stone

as if you’d lose all meaning but our own

new knowledge—or old, newly interpreted.


I lap you, smooth you and your warm flesh-grain,

while lightning fans the long Ionian sky;

breast, belly and that tiny beard where thigh

meets thigh and where we ache to meet again;


a midnight harvest of my body, grown

too safe in love, too fond of words unsaid,

safe now in you again. I turn a head

to where my cold, tall alphabets are thrown


lifetime by lifetime in the mythic sea.

Your soft prow falls on me and falls on me.


Nigel Forde

in collection Teaching the Wind Plurals,  1991

Robson Books, ISBN: 0-86051-718-7.






They are building, this March, between

Eaves and rafters, somewhere in the hot dark;

Haunting the bedroom with feathered sounds.


At morning they are wingbeats in the copper beech,

Wet runes by the water bowl or shadows quietly

Bending to the business of cool gardens.


We cannot name them. Loose in the sun they sing,

But come silently, invisibly, home to roost,

To fidget like stars all night, or soft rain on stones.


Reading in bed, we listen for them now,

As for the door scrape of a daughter safely home;

They peck along the roots of our noisy dreams


In whose half-light we follow ourselves back

Along the uncertain ways of love again,

Through a frost-creak stir of silence, the tiny


Spider’s footfall of an egg ticking.

The stealthy quotidian, the sift of our history

That was frail and unrehearsed; that is adequate.


Nigel Forde

in collection A Map of the Territory,  2003


ISBN-10: 1 90303 969 X.   ISBN-13: 978 1 903 03969 4





A Shadow Fugue


Cold shadows, too far flung. A sense of light

Blows like litter through the window, falls

In uninviting plainness on plain rooms

We’ve grown accustomed to. Unsheltered walls

Rugged with ice like candlewax, blackhearted,

Tick, purr and splatter. That grave-goose,

The water-table, shrugs beneath the land,

Hardens its arteries. The year hangs loose


To winds that creak, lament, in vocalises

For angels that announce the end of time,

Or score a thin pavane for ghosts shrugged out

Of anecdotal pasts. A game, a crime,

Who knows? Not won or solved, but reinvented

To be the homework of each generation,

Trespassers on their own lands which the dead

Still occupy with nightly perturbation.


We are perplexed inheritors whose bad dreams

Founder on good ones; the tune we want to find

Is hidden in counterpoint; even furniture

Is serious stuff and histories hide behind

It, obscurely - needing footnotes which

Are not provided. Stars dribble down the slates

And spider on the greenhouse glass. A code

Again, but repetition makes it rich


In aggregates of meaning. And that’s just

What’s missing from our cupboards that spill out

Their skeletons of tinsel, glass or bone

In mysterious geometries. We set about

Our temporary expedients once again,

As if what is unknown were unfulfilled;

As if the story so far were forgotten:

We trap some darkness every time we build.


Nigel Forde

in collection A Map of the Territory,  2003


ISBN-10: 1 90303 969 X.   ISBN-13: 978 1 903 03969 4





A Dutch Interior


The endless navigations of the day,

Simple as salt. On cucumber-cold tiles

The child kneels, his head in his mother’s hands.

An attitude of blessing, or farewell?

A prayer? A nightmare banishment? All this;

Besides the weekly search for lice. There is

A door, a window, always; something beyond.

Though never, we guess, Renaissance allegory:

No Mars and Venus, no St. Anthony,

No Milky Way straightlacing from Hera’s curves;

An absence of dragons. Truth, in fine, is proved

Where universals shrink and are behaviour -

The unemphatic tilting of a jug,

The curl of an apple paring; where the plain

Maidservant, or the woman of the house,

Is carefully performing something humble.

She fills a glass or turns a page of music,

Smooths bed-linen; as if eternity

Were loaded with unsafe minutes, where regret

And love have to be harboured in the grace

And daily, patient gravity of doing.


Dark mirrors gloss the harmony of rooms

And cheat perspective’s cheat with a dimension

Beyond the logic of interiors.

Through glass, or through a door and then a door,

A tiny world is theatred in sunlight;

The world of errands, visitors and morning

On warm Delft bricks, and sweet-faced dogs, and weeds

In perfect paving. This will pass. The balance

Is here in poised reflection, timber-grain

Worn smooth, and latticed glass, and space enough

To sigh and sleep and fold and peel and know,

In work well-ordered, the sure counterpoint

Of wholesome lives, the almost unremarked

Ache of what goes on and on and on.


Nigel Forde

in collection A Map of the Territory,  2003


ISBN-10: 1 90303 969 X.   ISBN-13: 978 1 903 03969 4


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