Jane Draycott



[the] Airport here will test a new federal screening system that takes X-rays of passengers' bodies – AP, 2006 It is late. At the gates to her city she calls your name, yes you, moon moth pinned here on the pages of this open book. So much yourself and not like you at all. The night is carbon. You are long past sleep. Here at the crossing point you meet her scanning eye in silence, though there's much more you could tell. How you played the violin each night at gunpoint, how you sang among the dead in Thrace, how you come as a messenger, bring news from another place.


A match struck in the house of ice. Deep-sea flame fish calling, the heart harpooning. Something in the dark is flashing. Gold in the blood - veverything you know. The fire on the little sandy beach. The bear at the window. No-one escapes.

The Square

Across the square a woman is looking at me from a window, the shadow of the room she's in pressing her like a flower towards the light. In her sleeveless linen dress she is beautiful, a cool candle in the vast dark glass, like my mother in a time before I knew her. Between us, a river of tourists, faces lifted to the great bronze horses stepping off into some other air we cannot see. Like a lover across a room I return her look but she in her eyes is saying It's too late now and it is: I might as well be invisible. Even if I crossed the square and found that room she's in, she would be gone for sure. She isn't interested in me any more.


for Holly We calculate you´re two corners away by now, first time alone in the car, navigating through the twelve big houses at the edge of town, the fallow field where once in a blue moon a spring appears like a flying fish at sea. The winter night´s as clear as cooling glass but you accelerate away from us too fast to see the stars, the arrows on the ground. Your music steers you on a sail of sound, you are on fire. Your hands are Mercury, your heart and eyes the Sun. You plough the top road like a submarine – we try in vain to visualise your course, the unlit shipping lanes, the shoals of stars. We cannot see you now.

After the Meal

After the meal (for this is the hour) comes the helicopter. Each person's plate wiped clean as an ice-field, miraculous flight to rise like a mythical insect over the mountains, the legendary gardens hanging like hair, then lower one's body and winch down the post. This is the hour when husbands and wives at their tables gaze at each other amazed like looking at photos of earth from the air the miles of mangrove, its jewelled brocade or their own letters found in their parents' effects or the wonderful clothes they once wore. This is the hour in the high alpine restaurants when lovers of many years standing wonder if they have ever existed at all.

In the same way

In the same way, a man might leave a house at dawn, closing the door as quietly as he can (though still it echoes in the street like pack ice or the trigger of a gun) and launch himself across the local street-map on his bike. He rides all day and night, he rides for years, the stony tracks, the hills, the deep crevasses and the bright blue light. Until one evening like a total stranger on a pitch black road the land puts up a hand and draws its knife. So when he does return it's with a deep map of the landscape carved into his face as its catastrophes are locked into his voice. All night the hills and crushing ice roll under him. Sleep now, nobody can understand everything.