By John Stocks
Seven Acts of Mercy
First he will salvage the old photographs
The half lit Edwardian drawing room,
A glimpse of another dimension
Fixed smiles from sepia-tinged faces.
The Shibboleth of all desires, here
Distilled in letters, old documents
Residuals and marginalia,
The shards of benign fragmentation.
He will protect the tiny girl that died
With her daughter, haemorrhaged after birth
And the soldier on the Somme, alluding
To the consequences of indiscretions.
He will keep the prayer books from the library,
Boxes full of tissued medals, trophies,
Won on distant sun kissed playing fields,
Evocative of languid, post war ease.
And this long lost, blurred, half focused world
The loose plasticity of flowing time,
He will store in a corner of his mind
Their heart beats, their tear stained miseries.
Then moonlight trembles on a cobbled yard
Where French girls stand, holding their bikes,
Some smoke, struggling to find an easy grace
Chat softly, almost in whispers.
I stroll down some half remembered lane
Knowing I could belong here now,
Sit night after night in the same café
Listening for the invisible sounds,
Taking the language as my own,
Then tomorrow I would rise and gather
The ripest of October fruits
For it is late autumn; and I am blessed.
There is always the last kiss
The final parting,
Already distant, the body cold;
The ‘Palais’ lights have dimmed.
He would have held her close
Less nimble than his brothers,
But ever smiling; more verbose.
His brown eyes steady and warm,
Gaze through wistful clouds
Of cigarette smoke.
She would glide effortlessly,
Lead him through the more complex moves,
Discreetly push the chairs aside,
Through the evenings slow eclipse
The one long, lingering kiss.
She would feel the contours of his shoulders
His strong forearms,
Note the confidence in his slow smile.
Weeks later they would slip
Between cool linen sheets,
Exploring for the first time
The flesh that would soon be wholly known,
His scent as familiar as her own.
For now they stand in silence
As the streamers begin to fall
And factory hooters blast away the old year.
They gaze curiously
Into each others eyes, wondering what to wish for,
From the other side of Paradise.