January’s advent of rain drops from chiffon clouds
unfurling over roof-smoke, flung starlings steadying
themselves in sharpened air, rain on paving stones
spotting the windows of houses that wake in yellow
light, radio-news spilling in to dissipate the dark.
You turn your face skyward, rain’s dizzy specks
falling upwards/outwards; you feel almost nothing
you should rejoice, alive after all, carrying out bin
bags, the rain reminding you that we have sinned, its
sour nothings whispered onto slate, that lip of sky
curling to suicidal blue. You turn away, stifling warm
wishes you might offer yourself, greeting a dead car
in the driveway, face broken in the mirrors of your
footprints. You’d be hungry if you could raise that
brute desire, if you were young again, maybe, except
not that, not that. There’s her face at the window, your
child looking down. You raise a hand where a bird might
have flown free to rain’s aura of extinction, stumbling
unshriven, unshaven, old-time prophet in a blue kagool.
Graham Mort teaches at Lancaster University and lives in North Yorkshire. A poet and short-story writer, he won the Edge Hill Prize in 2011 for “Touch” (Seren). His latest book, “Like Fado”, will be published by Salt in August.
This article appears in the 17 Jun 2020 issue of the New Statesman, The History Wars