Kiss

He's gone. She can't believe it, can't go on.
She's going to give up painting. So she paints
Her final canvas, total-turn-off
Black. One long
Obsidian goodbye.
A charcoal-burner's Smirnoff,
The mirror of Loch Ness
Reflecting the monster back to its own eye.

But something's wrong. Those mad
Black-body particles don't sing
Her story of despair, the steel and
Garnet spindle
Of the storm.
This black has everything its own sweet way.
Where's the I'd-like-to-kill-
You conflict? Try once more, but this time add

A curve to all that straight. And opposition -
White. She paints black first. A grindstone belly
Hammering a smaller shape
Beneath a snake
Of in-betweening light.
"I feel like this. I hope that you do, too.
Black crater. Screw you. Kiss."
And sees a voodoo flicker, where two worlds nearly touch

And miss. That flash, where white
Lets black get close, that dagger of not-quite contact,
Catspaw panic, quiver on the wheat
Field before thunder -
There. That's it.
That's her own self, in paint,
Splitting what she was from what she is.
As if everything that separates, unites.


from Voodoo Shop (Chatto, 2002), copyright © Ruth Padel 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher

Recordings

Ruth Padel

Ruth Padel Reading from her Poems

1Writing to Onegin

2Rain

3Kiss

4Mary's Elephant, Elizabeth's Spinet

5Icicles Round A Tree in Dumfriesshire

6The Pazyrak Nomad

7Shaping Up

8Pharaoh's Cup

9Indian Princess Picks Lover Out From Gods

10Pilot Light

11The Soho Leopard

12The Stone That Flows

13The Appointment

14The Red-Gold Border

15Trial

16Godfearing

17Angel