Distance between us

The penultimate prompt for NaPoWriMo is to take a key word or so from a favourite poem and let the word inspire a chain of words that will on turn build a poem.

The painting btw is Dante and Beatrice by Odilon Redon.


Where do you go when you sleep and slip from my grasp? Do you walk among stars and look down on my face from afar, or do you stride among rolling hills of cloud and look instead into the face of the morning? Does your day break in a prism of light and fountains of gold, in some place I have never seen and never will? When you slip into sleep and stride through the night, do your thoughts turn to me?

I watch your starlit face, pale as moonlight, and let my fingers trace the outline of your marble cheek, blood-warm. Is the touch of my hand a memory, slowly cooling, in the vast, bright-feathered and horse-running plains of your dreams?

In the deeps of night

clouds spring-brisk fly, feather light—

distance between us.


Is there happiness?

Painting ©Bernardien Sternhelm


Is there happiness to be found,

to be picked up for the asking,

plucked from random moments

and the bustle of other people’s lives?

It used to be there,

I remember,

packed in books and chocolate,

and sauced with the scent of Christmas pine and pudding,

or filling the hours spent sifting pebbles and pond life,

while the world stood still and held its breath.

What remains of that wonderment

that filled to the brim the vessel of content?

Cloud hangs now on the horizon,

fear of tomorrow at every fiery sunset.

Grains of sand in the machine

grind and grumble through the blackbird’s song,

once beauty pure enough to stop the sun in its course.

The world is full of shadow,

and the limpid mornings,

the golden afternoons,

the birdsong of another time,

an echo growing fainter by the year.

When the darkness gathers

and the ricochets of broken dreams

fall thick and fast as bullets,

and the veil of fog on the river will not lift,

I reach out and touch your hand,

the pivot, the centre that must hold,

however thick the darkness grows

and the sunlight cold.