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Shadow and Light: The Transitory

Summer, 2004

Fiona Sampson

Four Poems

Moon Bandurria

-----For Julian


The night the sky refused to fly

dogs sang in darkness, bleached earth

lay in terraces round the hills, the screen door -

opening - set off a trail of echoes

shooting like stars across the desert.

The night the sky refused to fly

I was there. I was up in it,

my cool terrace slanting towards blackness,

tall night-ships sailing slowly west

across my forehead. These are the things we dream of

during shuttered days: the milk

throat of night pouring endlessly, soundlessly

and we, astonished at ourselves, touching it,

finding ourselves alive.




Tush-tush. Eyes fan black.


your skin burning coral and jet.

Lashes lift turn


in the room's milky breath.

Dome of a cheek.

Peonies lying half-unwrapped, the paper's


Symmetry of presence

and space

breathing against each other

filling, emptying. Full.



In The Vault Of Sleep


Heat is not a straight line it is a vault

breaking away


occupied space, a cosmosphere

for sleep voyages

heat's umbrella-wing thrust out

like your arm that burning line



beyond skin the space of a skin opening

flags opening in bright wind roar of a clean engine

how to explain? how

the drag of space inward and out

(vacuumed flame) the bird

flaming its wing flung

                                how summarise



the magnetism

between flame's root its hair

that causal tension

closing bird-flight folded

and body-dense

the beautiful burn?



Nocturne in Blue and Black 


At dusk a jeep drives this way

its headlights passing through the small avenue of ash trees

business-like as cutlery on a blue plate.

Sky smudges the distance where the jeep merges

into blue dusk. The track under the headlights

is corrugated. The jeep black and business-like.

At dusk everything is black and blue,

bruised by autumn, rain, the long night to come.

The jeep rolls along the track like a china toy

and through the open window comes the smell of clay,

the lighter smell of drizzle in blue air.

The jeep passes black ash trees like forks

in the wide landscape. And the track is a knife,

dented and tarnished from over-use.

The jeep is small. Its headlights blacken the sky,

the track ahead and behind, the fields turning into sky.

Even their clay is black, the spring wheat blue

under black sky. Headlights clatter across it all,

starting a hare. Later there'll be lamping.

Behind the jeep ash trees shine in the drizzle.

The blue fields and the jeep go on into the sky.