Surreptitious

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Friendship slips
out the window
when lovers shout
and part.

It may ring the doorbell
later,
when neither hurts
not wants
nor waits.

– – – – – –

Rachel McAlpine

Bliss

cliff

One night I shall despise him but this night
he is the great white tame hawk
perched beating at my teeth.

He is the scimitar I carry trembling
down the cliff of my sleep.

One day I shall be ashamed.
I shall speak.

*

Rachel McAlpine

(Title is same as the title of a short story by Katherine Mansfield that inspired this poem.)

Survival kit

seal

Being alive involves
a certain quantity of losing,
maybe six per cent.

Ships planes and
hospital beds, letters
from head office and
blunders all contribute.

The soul travelling
looks for a cloud
and even in the sea
dehydration is
the greatest danger.

The wise provide
for such emergencies.

Knowing a friend may leave
at any time they hoard food
and water, especially water,
and bandage up the heart in advance.

This way they can afford to cry.
Which is right and proper
and the heart does not leak
and they say Yes, yes
I am saved, I have not shrivelled.

Good, good we all understand—
except for how and why at times
a person cries
from the opposite of losing,
from a kind of overflow.

*

Rachel McAlpine