The Works of Sara Berkeley, Part 3
Zoo Gardens, BerlinMy watch has stopped,
the heart you gave me is broken.
In the zoo gardens
gas lamps glimmer in the first rain,
slow figures pull their dark coats closer.
By the bridge the puddles are slate grey,
rain hisses gently on the river,
the sounds stay close to the water.
In their enclosure
the animals skitter and bleat,
they don't appreciate
Autumn's melancholic hunger,
the ongoing tug of the rain,
they are hungry or tired or in pain.
I am not any of these things,
my name is shallow and no pools form
I wait for a while at the rail,
I lean down and my coat falls open,
the animals do not seem
touched by anything, but I hear
the watchtick heart in your mouth
telling of wet leaves
and the black weather to come,
the colours of air.
Blue TuesdayNear the end of blue Tuesday
He wrote himself a note
About how miserable he felt;
Put on clean socks, laced his boots,
Went out to face the weather.
He sat on his step in the sun
Until the fog rolled in;
Fat fog rolls sat on the hills
And blew across his road.
He went inside, turned the wind down
And knelt by his life, blowing for a spark.
When it grew dark,
He crouched in the dark, fiddling with the dials
Listening to the voices fade in and out
Spreading the weather.
But news on the hour increased the interference
The hair on his neck rose
He turned from the news through a snatch of songs,
Liquorice tunes he once whistled to.
He rocked and rocked in his white board house
Head in his knees, casting around for himself.
It came unexpectedly, like the truth,
Right at the end - a silence that stilled his hand -
He passed through every station on earth
And in the end, face down, head first,
The hissing silence held him.
EvidenceThey came to the end of them
nettles took hold, the roof fell
thistles grew right down their hall
she listened to his doubtful thoughts,
Into other people's homes
he made his solitary way
kept his bones in their stone jars
put his hot cheek to their flagstone floors
heard only echoes there.
She lay under a mountain ash
keeping count of the seconds that passed
with her free hand she traced a root
circled and circled the heavy doubt
cut his name in the dark.
Didn't he see the end of time
chasing minutes across the face
the gloomy cast of early June
fell too smartly on her pain
would she ever be safe?
She lay counting them to a close
in her vessel was bitter blood
truth flooded her deepest canals
truth found its own level
close to the bone.
She lay on her side, he knelt in his dark
kissing the life from her every joint,
she counted elephants, one to ten,
he said her name a final time,
it was over then.
My Father’s BrotherIn Saint Vincent’s he lay down,
spoke with effort, woke slowly,laughed in pain. After,
my father drove me to Stephen’s Green
In Bewleys I borrowed a cigarette.
Somewhere over Nevada you pass
the dead center of America,
the still, dry center of the universe.
The cigarette made me feel worse.
I thought of all the people -
Grandpa Dick, the tiny, stern great
great grandmother whose wedding dress I’d worn -
were they gone? were they anywhere?
Grandpa Owen’s last words on a note in the hall,
“the skirts are winning”
after a neighbour’s second girl.
Now my father’s brother, robbed of sleep,
brought his book to light
down the end of the long, restless corridor
of night; and in the afternoon,
watching the sweatered players on the tamed green,
he drove his salmon life upstream,
the days took on a different drift, he learned
to fall, and get up, and walk away
into another dream.
Alone on Grafton Street I panned my thoughts.
It came out on top; love, the heaviest truth.
UndertowI was not gently led
into that inner room.
From where I lay, it always
seemed another room away,
and feeling the wall for a door
I felt the cries of all those girls before
being drawn, drowned,
promised and offered and led
to the very core, and whether willing
or in dread, all
wwooping low and following
the flow and irresistable tide
knowing the undertow
was where they always died,
every distinguishing sign,
mole, tilt, and curl,
number and name,
until they were all
the same and it fell
cold as a cave in the room,
they stood holding the spent flame,
wanting to put it down,
bury it now it was done
and move with the ease of girls
who know themselves,
into a different room.
Once their sound
turned down, my hands
began to burn
from holding memory's hand.
I laid them flat on the cool sheet
and turned my other cheek,
lying easy in a white bed, wondering
would I be given up