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Two Poems

South-East of Eden

Together they took the least space they could.
Entered each other deeply, to be less,
to throw one shadow only, to be still
for all the world while moving for each other.

So space, so barely dented, might not bruise
and cry, and time come running. This was why
their breaths were held inside till the only end
of that—this side of nothing—the great sigh
that gives the place away ...
                                           And out they come,
exiting one another with the kiss
to heal the bruise and be the bruise and there
they sit. The only angel in this case
came only there to point them, in their first
amazing silence, to two peaceful desks.

Christmas Seven Times Seven

Seven-times-seven of these
till now, one spent alone.
I watch first lights come on
on a houseboat by the dim canal.
There are two whole families
somewhere on the earth I'll call
who wouldn't be surprised.

Seven-times-seven of these.
I woke up eye to eye
with my little zombie tree
whose blue-green-crimson bulbs still light
a path through other trees
to the beckoning unearthly spot
if I thin my eyes and think so.

Seven-times-seven. Today
falls on a Saturday,
like a tramp who's trying to say
it's Saturday to the holy beaming
family riding by,
their tinsel tied and fluttering,
their kindness claiming his kind

though seven-times-seven times
in fifty times they leave him
wordless by a dustbin.
The early light is pale and tinted,
precious, this one time
I've nothing much to bring it
but our old words for numbers.

Seven-times-seven breaths
and something comes, as if
the dark won't stand for it,
silence can't endure it either—
whatever breathes time breathes
and that abiding something-other
holds me like what holds those who

these seven-times-seven years
have clustered to their eerie
consolatory short story
that's everything a child would hope:
that a time comes, reappears,
that with a firm and measured step
it's all at once beside us

like seven-times-seven footsteps
along the sounding tunnel
as I walk this old canal.
And as often as I turn to see
who's there and they're my steps,
I think they're mine till somebody
goes past me without turning.

Glyn Maxwell


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