The Ques­tion & Sil­ver Birches

The London Magazine - - CONTENTS - Michael Spinks

I ask you what you want, my dear, but yet ex­pect no real re­ply, for how should you an­swer what for you makes no sense, when even for the one who asks it has but half a mean­ing. The pho­to­graph burns from one near cor­ner, eat­ing out cloth­ing, ca­ress­ing the throat, a gap­ing hole; the last to go are eyes and hair and that dis­tinct lo­ca­tion. All that’s left is ash and mist.

The evening fal­ters on the steps of stone de­scend­ing to the sunken gar­den; shad­ows lengthen and en­close, gain­ing ground soft inch by inch. There at ev­ery cor­ner, ev­ery breath, this lady of dis­tances. But oh, to be close to your mouth, lady of voices and ges­tures. And where does mean­ing go when once so near and the word is still the single sound­ing, what.

Walk into the space - your pres­ence should oc­cupy, he said, and stand, your pro­file against the win­dow. Speak. Orion and Cas­siopeia give no ac­count,

yet they ap­pear again each night in con­stant reg­u­lated or­der, shap­ing your pass­ing.

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