Since I have seen you do those intimate things
that other men but dream of; lull asleep
the sinister dark forest of your hair
and tie the bows that stir on your calm breast
faintly as leaves that shudder in their sleep;
since I have seen your stocking swallow up,
a swift black wind, the flame of your pale foot,
and feigned your slender legs so meshed in silk
twin mermaid sisters drowned in their sleek hair -
I have not troubled overmuch with food,
and wine has seemed like water from a well;
pavements are built of fire, grass of thin flames;
all other girls grow dull as painted flowers
or flutter harmlessly like coloured flies
whose wings are tangled in the net of leaves
spread by thin boughs that grow behind your eyes.

from Collected Poems (Carcanet 1991), copyright © Edgell Rickword 1991, by permission of Carcanet Press Ltd. Recordings used by permission of the BBC.

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