Poetics

at Shangani post office

how long has it taken us to get here?
you don’t really think about the distance until you’re alone
with the strange intimacy of a body so foreign and removed
from you that even the sharing of a meal
becomes reenactment of some old bloody campaign.
and when, finally, a familiar body arrives
talking about a half-empty bottle of Gilbey’s,
the tide, the islands, the officers, the sun,
the pills – you’re happy.
you write a letter and postcard home,
something under the tongue dissolves into sweet medicine,
you get lost in some alley, you watch the old men pray –
what are the uses of prayer, anyway?
what a cruel thing for poets to read to each other,
especially in bed.

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