Monday, December 16, 2019

Three Poems by Michael Lee Rattigan

after ‘Solo for two voices’, Octavio Paz

Behind your eyes           alone
shaken seeds, white-hot stone,
tawny wheat

daylight hardly wakes
where nothing moves.
Hand reaches for cup,
heard at the back of the throat
a latch          
tiempo petrificado
                             flares up and dies
against the fixed idea,
without ideas except those felt
living the moment          words
tap on your shoulder
“nailed to the center
                               of a whirlwind” –
no one's child,
least of all your own, as in
“that value is not in me”.

Shake the dry branch:
scatter grain, unhusked
on the heels of a hidden sun –
the bone raised,
        airy monument
of untold memory, future form.

Today you are separated
by your own voice
                              and others’.
Today is ice, steam, clank, psalm,
toddler-talk, overflow, world.
Against the current, with it
broken bread, an unseen drop
“girls of the grain” in procession –   
bleached skull, seed, scream,
wandering root in upheaved earth.


This moment uproots another
in unblenched voice, tree-strode pitch.
Bluish gaps tear and close.
Beaks quiver to beaded view.

Gusts again and again.

Beginning End

no longer supports    wind-fingering
coral buds of grass    remnant
under our heels    passage
never closed    gleam and shadow
written    in body's reflection

from the ashes    division
without sum    air and light
is not ended    more powerfully
broken    in every atom
palimpsest    of eternal drafts

Unfound was originally published in The Sunday Times.

Michael Lee Rattigan is a poet and translator based in Caterham, Surrey (UK). He has translated the complete collection of Fernando Pessoa's Alberto Caeiro poems (Rufus Books, 2007). His poetry collection Liminal was published in 2012 (Rufus Books). His latest collection Hiraeth was published alongside its French translation in 2016 (Black Herald Press). 


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