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Image by Caroline Forbes

Tens and eight

Tens and eight

We were tens and eight, my brother,
the dead boy, and I. An August
sleepover, backyard pup-tents
and kerosened silhouettes of finger-bats
and cluck-knuckles, and in the morning
snuck out on our goose-necks
for Calabazas Creek, the squidge

of tadpoles burping around
beer cans and the rusted ribs of a ditched
trolley. It was they who shared
freckles, he and Danny, like a secret
language as we skimmed bottle tops
off the greasy swill, flicking dog-ends
and grotty screws, squinting in the grubbed

heat as I nudged a comma of sweet sap
from a filched waffle with my sun-burnt
tongue. What I want to say is that, looking
back, I saw it coming in the light shuddering
off the mottled water, or that there was
something in the way his body blinked
in the haze as we skittled for our bikes

that signalled he was going or was already
gone; that what we saw crumple between
fender and gravel was something other
than everything, that even now there are
ways of shifting your focus from the ruined
faces round that wreck, deciphering
freckles, distinguishing shoes.


from A Lens in the Palm (Carcanet, 2008), © Kelly Grovier 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Kelly Grovier Reading from his Poems

1The shed

2The stars

3The easel of Mantegna

4The ancient of days

5Rodin's Balzac

6Camping Out

7Rain, Steam and Speed

8Tens and eight

9The lens

10The needle

11Ghosting

12Lost

13The lost room

14The recipe

15Table Saw

16Furcula

17Lacewing

18St Augustine's Abbey

19Conversions

20The astrologers

21The Book of Clues

22Giftings

23Icon

24A spider in Trinity College Chapel

25Fra Angelico

26Les Parapluies

27The triple tree

28Of thought - the train

29Mincing Words

30There

31'Nor even yet quite relinquish'

32The Consolation of Philosophy

33The frequency

34Metaphysics

35Spinnings

36Tractatus

37The night is like a dinosaur

38Via negativa

39April Morning

40The meadow

41Palms

42Wan Hu's flying chair

43Murmuration

44Söl

45Hurricane Alley

46The Ruined Statue of a Saint

47Pancho Villa

Books & cds by Kelly Grovier