THE PHOENIX HOUR
Do not expect again a phoenix hour...
Panting and flaring in the sun and wind,
immense and vastly purple is the bush we sit behind;
with a Dutch doll's-house pattern, pool and bed,
before us, orderly in green and gold and red;
and lesser bushed handing like windy wigs.
A child incessantly crawls and chuffles between my legs,
playing trains, and talking of tunnels with a gusty tongue,
and knows that purple is royal: I am king,
and our fierce-flowering shelter a palace, to which he crawls
- driving his little engine through the palace walls.
In his flexible ungoverned world, there is
no image for the convent of our hierarchies,
or switches between so and not: the politics
and springs and symbols of his playing - labour and sex
- are shadows for us in a caste of action:
this battling garden is not war and resurrection
until we lie. For him, the multiple
can be at once, and one, not known, and real:
his blond slender play-voice foretells and belongs
to a lover's agony and the ruin of kings.
And we are friends if now I do not save
a part of me that plays, if now I also live
created fact; commanding all that bows and blooms
to candelabra-courtiers in a thousand rooms;
living my knowledge that not a king but has found his way
troubled by a mislaid woman or a boy,
or overbearing labour - some love or weariness.
Or I must burn my signals in the trees,
and on my walls, and where tables and bushes kneel,
to an extraordinary chamberlain of steel.
For his strange doubt of selfhood is a sign:
all his unconscious symbols are awake, and mine:
obsession with bed or birth, with love or fear,
double pretence, and this bright breathless garden, are
ourselves, are you and I.
Struggling and creeping North,
now I can name you Love from a child's mouth,
and Here, and all our wistful years: a woman and
her poet, dancing and flowering in the wind,
who like a beggar must stand here and sing
for a child's affection, and hours gone too long.