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?