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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol

 

Elegy through my fingers

By Euan Dawtrey

1.

I took the burnt remnants of you, up to the Cairn at                      daybreak
                 To plant you into earth and soil.

Tucked beneath canopy’s shadow
     three pigeons deconstruct the
      anatomy of a crisp packet
               and wrestle with the skeleton
           of a stripped grape stem
   lost in the flurry, the feather, the fight.

      will this battle be fatal?

pieces of inanimate matter,
all of it.

3.

My ascent was long

 

though longer for you whoever you are.
I should be thankful for the certainty of sweat.
I see your likeness in the heather and the moss.
It makes sense to hear you in the wind.  

The air grew (almost imperceptibly) thinner,
my lungs strained before I knew why.
Lactic acid took electric blood around my breathing body
so my veins popped and swelled        a sign of myself-

‘beware of the adjective’
you sing
from beyond the river
on the dreamscape riverbank
-the fogged river-
the watery river allusion
the river body that’s hidden
below the murky guise of river.
                                              Small vertebrate bones crunch
like Maltesers under my boot.

I try not to know the animal
I keep the animal below the surface of my shoe.

Not with this job to do

For you

Whatever you are.

5.

                         I know I’ll find you in an undusted room

                 you’re a shower illuminated by curtain cracks

                                  you will lay, sprawling, naked on the sofa, on the wardrobe, on the stuck turntable

you’ll collect in roomy corners

          I’ll find you

 in the air

7.

There hangs the evening star, hot on the horizon,
laid out to cool on the bed of darkening sky
pulled up
from the eternal burn of hotness
that hums in some lower cavern

 

        just and always
   below the line of sight.

2.

Me      my undrunk water bottle
my un-mudded calves
my hand-me-down weather-beaten walking boots
my hand-held        lifetime

all of it
 

in the crosshairs of

 

Mud track leaking from the confines of track
            out over the grassy inroads that
collapse

                   boundlessly

 over a mound  
      making a hill

                     making a mountain.

4.

I want(ed) a burial not a burning

So mechanical men with microscopes can see

                                                a football shattered my arm
a cricket ball bent my index

                                                        a stud snapped my ankle bone
         skirting boards marked my forehead
                                            fists cracked my eye socket-

I want them to say, convincedly,

                                      ‘that hand is his hand
                                                                   that foot is his foot’

So they’ll know who I am
like I know the subject of those rotted things
defended from dust and feeling hands
behind well-kept well-sealed showing-glass.

6.

I leave footmarks in the wet mud       a sign of myself
        on my way back down to where

              recent rainfall marks the end of one thing
and the start of another        a sign of myself

   where wisteria cuts a fine line over granite
where rigid heather locks wan blossoms
in sticky fertility
   
where I can grab fistfuls of winged things
like picking cherries

 

where juniper and dandelion fight for sunlight
where boatmen and fireweed tumble
                           into the turbid whirlpool’s turbulent center
and tomorrow, after today,

 a father and a son will ascend
      
          these overhanging heights to

walk away my boot-prints
       before rain again
                     and again
                             and again.

8.

I took the burnt remnants of you, up to the Cairn at 

daybreak

To plant you into earth and soil

and sat with my back pressed
against Time’s stacked stone mound,
which is lasting and has lasted
indefinitely, in the slipstream of
impermanence
where I scrawl your deaf and dumb name

in Scottish rock
with my blunt pen-knife end.