• Patrick Deeley

Apparitions & AFTERMATH

Apparitions by Patrick Deeley

Two of us, short-muzzled, white-furred,

move towards each other,

taking many sidetracks, from either end

of a pine-log country deep and vast.

Sleep-gunned, embedded with microchip

under skin-flap, we rise again,

stars now in a project designed to track

the peregrinations of wolves,

the limits to which they go. Light-footed

as apparitions – which ‘occur’

as we are said to do, and whose lights are

knocked out in most quarters

too – we flicker, one male, one female,

over frozen ground, stop at odd

moments with forepaw lifted as if a thought

had just struck us, dance forward

again, bounding through cloud breaths,

our amber eyes alert to the least

speck, yet unaware of the lab coats

gliding elsewhere among monitors that pan

away to register ice-plated lake,

fjord and crevasse. If their minds suffer

whiteout, or grow creased with care,

do ours flow on the now of everything?

And if the film snags in a blizzard

of its own making, will we be any wiser,

or even a little lighter? None of this is ours

to show. But you can invent an ending,

have us meet up, push noses

together, sway in secret through the snow.

AFTERMATH by Patrick Deeley

It had burned. It had rained.

The world was winter,

a worked-out quarry, gouged

dells of shale glimmering

in the blear everywhere

without the least tempering

of clay or vegetation.

Boulders reared up, melded

into corkscrew shapes

extending to every horizon.

I saw clean through

my own body a track beaten

by a vanished machine;

felt no contact when I put

my hand against a sign

of gobbledygook lettering;

sifted amid unresistant

char-dust, revealed only flat

ghost-marks of petals

stunned into limestone.

Shadows spun noiselessly by.

I debated a crow, a root,

a shank of pliable trash

from the time of ambition.

What now was meant?

The ground signalled a lasting

oblivion. Still I walked,

tugged by old anticipations

of finding a homegrown

heaven on earth – the swell

of voices, colour, life – and yes,

majesty and malady

infuriatingly woven together.

Only ruination stood,

such vast conundrum

mouthing nothing. Why then

this ratcheting of hope,

this search for a future

both faint and foolish

that I had begun to imagine?