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A poem by Nicholas Laughlin

Published in The Strange Years of My Life
and previously in Poetry Wales, April 2006


I am sometimes a cloud waiting behind your eyes,
I am made of small ants of remembered light,
perhaps you see me when you are falling asleep,
sailing like a holiday constellation,
Antares and Betelgeuse and Mars.
I am sometimes a bruise on your knee or shin,
a smear of new mud or roucou pulp,
scent of cinnamon, rooibos, paprika,
I am made of powdered rust and a little sweat,
maybe I am magnetic, or hum in the dark,
or shimmer like smoke from a kermes pyre.
Maybe I am sea-water opaque with salt,
Sargasso tea. Maybe the taste of me stings,
maybe I am sweet as a ferrous broth.
Maybe I am a ruse of retiring day,
a blush of farewell madder, something half-glimpsed
before the light moves on. A strobe-lit finger,
wet. A rumpled scarf. A glistening lip.
A spattered kerchief that will not wash out,
a pattern like a pause of little ants,
scent of mace. I am sometimes a newborn nerve,
a tiny coil of glass and neon and heat,
an evening thunderstorm inside a vein,
a tiny nova when you are falling asleep.


Read more poems by Nicholas Laughlin