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.
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
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.