Stewart Sanderson: Adam & Eve, Whereabouts Unknown

Adam and Eve, Whereabouts Unknown

 

When the warning came their faces were impassive,

wearing much the same inscrutable and tranquil

aspect as before. And when the first bomb broke

through the museum roof in an avalanche of bricks

and bursting pipes, they never once cried out

but stood there holding hands. Two refugees

from greater conflicts in their little wood

of brambles, chiaroscuro, gillyflowers

and luminous yellow flesh. They hardly stirred

when the parachute mine burned up their frame and drunken

soldiers pissed on them. They were unmoved,

it seemed. Though near the end, when flames snaked through

their quattrocento orchard and wet snow

fell on them through the ceiling, he whispered in

her ear. “Will it be long now, darling?” And she bit her lip

but seemed to hold his fingers tighter than she had before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goatfell

 

 

Among the many Scottish peaks I have not climbed

I take this one

and give it to you for

the goat in it – the almond eyes, the scrub

of fur on your bare hands –

and then the milk

from little teats

gone sour as curdled whey.

 

But for its fell also,

a curious word

which in Old Scots meant “skin

from goats, for instance –

pelts and piss-tanned hides

curing slowly

in the corner of the byre.

 

Since saying that reminds me how

their word for female skin back then

was simply “lyre”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Day, 1812

 

I remember shaving. Having to break a pane

of ice on the trough to do it. Then I dipped

my bayonet twice in the water, rinsing off the soapy

dregs of beard before drying my face with a towel

already stiff with frost. The courtyard brightened.

 

Inside the stable it was cold. The men were asleep.

A few spare coals glowered softly in the grate

before going out altogether. Later we’d shoot

a horse or two, filling that grey room with smoke,

retorts and flailing limbs. We had to eat.

 

I remember saying goodbye to my horse. Au revoir

to my cheval. Whatever it is they say

to their equestrian friends in Russia. Auf wiedersehn, pferd.

Then putting a hot metal ball in his soft cold brow

while the comet swept away from us, far overhead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stewart Sanderson was born in Glasgow. His poems have appeared in The Literateur, Other Poetry, Lallans, Erbacce, The Bow Wow Shop, The Interpreter’s House, Magma and Gutter.

 

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