Electric lights float on the night river;
sailing boats of stars jostle a sway
in the approach of the deeper winter
that will bring its rigor mortis
and a hunt for the wren who beckons
luckless men from the banks.
And what men there have been,
what a collection: some to forgive,
some to be forgiven by, some whose names
I have forgotten. Or blotted out.
This bristle of fluid reflections
gleam upon the ebony water,
I watch them tell their lie
and seem to glide away -
icy and luminous.
The cold mists my breath
and stiffens my remorse, I toss it in,
it tries to swim, but sinks -
a new pebble to taunt the sky -
another stone to rub alongside the submersion
of other abandoned, abortive emotions.
Avenging mummers raise their dead bird
upon a spike, their loud shouts resound
too near in the thin nakedness of the air.
I murmur my Latin to no one, more lost words
escape beneath the gasps from my mouth.
We raise up and we wrench down,
we should wear battle armour
for this kind of treachery of ourselves.
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