The Manchester Review
Sean O'Brien
Two Poems
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Last time was starlight through smoke -
The rags of her glittering train
Hauled over the mud at low tide.
Her purple robe was a figment
Glimpsed in the fruit-wrappings strewn
Among the orange-boxes in a passageway
In which the white sun stood.
Then nothing, forever, bare facts
Of the wintering city whose meaning
Clarity has worn away, bare streets
Where dreams may not be disinterred,
Street names, street signs, funereal
Labours of bureaucracy to speak
Exactly as it finds: this place
Is neither terrible nor blessed.

She will not listen, but I long
For the curve of the evening street
When the crowd falls away
And St Mary’s weathercock turns
In the last shaft of sun, and in turning
Replies with the seal of its gold
On the indigo air: as if the mere object
Should know what it is to be frozen
And faithful, to study deserving, should know
How at the core of winter her creation
Flows and flows, vouchsafing
That all shall be well because all shall be,
Which is all we may hope for, signs
Of the impartial love she bears the world,
The privilege we serve and fear.