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Dreaming of Still Water

Darkness like the heat of a face next to mine.
I do not pray for human reassurance -
that would be no good.
I do not ask for explanations -
I would not understand.
I ask you for a glass of water
and the prints of your hand on the glass.

I fell asleep and dreamt of an empty
toll-booth to a bridge that concluded
not at the further bank but in the gentle
lapping of a smooth and boundless lake.
I closed my eyes and lowered the blade
of my oar inside its cool body.
There was so much time, adrift
in the summer rushes, drinking without
talk or timidity, then walking through
my home streets and the august heat
pressing through the soles of my shoes
and the air thick with the scent of flowers
and my friends all about me,
laughing without purpose,
laughing like a release.

For two minutes I lay in the darkness
listening to your breathing which continued
clear and insistent. I lay still
listening, counting the breaths -
there and there and there.

Then under my hand the quick shock
of cold water like a spilled glass
though there was no glass beside me,
then the cold disappeared and I heard
the sprint of my clock next to me,
and the tick of the curtains on the glass
and the shift of the draught in the dust beneath me
and the dark like the heat of a face next to mine.

The sun poured its silent arc
through water's soft body
like an idea or a decision
long understood.
Your hand closed about the glass.
I leant over the lake and broke
the surface with my spread fingers -
received the cool grip of something
strong and expected.


Cliff Ashcroft


Peninsula Poets

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