AFFLICTIONS OF METAL
Love, gentle mirror-lattice, forged in the sun, web-light,
silver of evening windows: keep the rain away,
and the sour breath we move-in, keep from it
the sooting candles of the ordinary day.
Oh if you must, let it face inwards, even; for
lupus and cancer of the metals may
soon fall on it, and you not watch it any more.
Schist or detritus of the metals: poison-green
for copper; scarlet minimum the ash of lead;
the grey and shivering plague that falls on tin;
iron that rots in coal-wings or in friable blood:
all their cosmetic ruins, paintbox leprosies,
are the new-smelted elemental deed
which acid fear, church-fire, time's weeping, oxidise.
We roast our dirt to paint-with, mingle dulcet oil
with ash of earth or metal; and the colours leap
in life to which the elements were dull.
Refuse then easy mourning; let our clay burn-up,
summer amazement rust, shame etch our innocence:
when all are dead, their dust is ours to keep -
the autumnal palette of despair and tolerance.