Andy Brown lives in Devon, U.K. He has published three poetry collections, From A Cliff (Arc, 2002), The Wanderer's Prayer (Arc, 1999) and West of Yesterday (Stride, 1998). He is Lecturer of Creative Writing & Arts at Exeter University.
Landscape with Mountains
Who am I? That's a good question, but
before we tackle it, please submit it
in writing, in triplicate, giving us time
to find another story - perhaps the one
about those of us who never leave home,
unless it is to search for life, guessing
which way to head. There's a story to still
the heart! For the roads it describes lead
back through years of self-satisfied comfort.
We chase the same unchanging lures
as we lumber along, searching the angles
of night & strings of attachment, until
we find ourselves in firm defeat en route
to the mountain. The water that flows from
its peak surprises us, even though we know
it is the source. We lie enmeshed in songs
that drift down from the high meadows;
revel in the view; drink wine & eat our fill
of the exhausted sun that strides the long horizon.
There in the distance the harbour catches
the last of the light, to the clatter of rigging.
Lovers line the seawall, blind to all but the sea.
Now, about that question...
After the passionate debates are over
about us doing what is right, or not,
we make our way back to the heart
or what we call the heart, but mean
as somewhere other within us, near
the border of where we are & where
we'd like to be -
but just as chess moves
gain their meanings later in the game,
we come to find the heart is sometimes
missing & have to stand behind the
things we said - as one would stand
behind a poker hand, or throw of dice -
facing each other, staring at our feet;
wondering if we're rooting in the dust.
An Old Cartoon
The sun unwinds itself from night's monsoon.
It is as if we've slept in separate beds
& yet I wake to the imagined smile
behind your sleeping face, tired of being
alone, or rather, welcoming the small
everyday acts that raise their heads
again & again in cheerful tones, flickering
in stop-start frames, as in an old cartoon.
It takes all day to reach the other us,
the truthful one that lies beneath the surface
of this game. Our hope lies in the scripts
we read & in our reading gathering hints
of what lights up the paper from inside;
for love's a lantern & isn't it burning bright?