In Exile

It's Sunday in this seaside town, quiet,
Without specific rituals to attend, the inhabitants ignore each other,
And me. The streets are silent as they enjoy the pause
Between last week's traffic and next week's noise.

If it's true I committed a crime, no-one told me which,
Only that I'm banished and cannot return
To my friends and family, to the land I knew
Since birth, whose smells, sights and sounds engendered me
And formed my imagination. How cruel
To suddenly be a stranger, cut off, alone
Writing, solitudinously, in a bare room
With just a family picture and a stone
I collected from the shore - a book of your poems.

First I found a lover, a woman who accepted me,
Who braved the scorn of her family who rejected me
And made her way to visit me on the third floor,
Proudly ignoring the concierge's eye peeking through the crack of the door
And the lewd attentions of the married docker
Who mended his bike on the landing and watched her pass,
Ascend the stair, then commented on her ass
As it went out of view.

For many nights we stayed still in each others arms and embraced
Until the dawn signalled reality must banish
'Love's magic bower', woven with affectionate words,
Touches and scents. We clung for another hour
To our dream until the day's harsh, metallic sounds
Forced her from my bed, to dress and look around
For her jewelry, carefully placed in a small heap -
Pearls, a fine gold chain, an amethyst brooch, an amulet -
She left only memories for me to keep:
Her imprint on my soul and her smell on my skin,
Which later in the day I caught again
As I worked in an office and suffered,
                           the tedious jokes of men.

This life seemed trivial next to her beauty and the stars,
How we work for a system we only meet on forms
Or when our bank accounts go overdrawn, or some
Flunkey of the state stops you and asks where you were born,
How long you're staying, where you're coming from,
To impress that you're just in transit, not wanted,
You'll soon be gone. As if they'd been granted
A certificate of permanence in a world
We know is fleeting, as if the stars' indifference
To our lives did not affect them or they were not hurled
Through space with us, and they had no notion
That we are all, together, at the heart of a vast explosion.

I try to separate myself from that and steer a path
Between enchantment and graft.
I have my pride, like other men -
I want to work and, maybe, some day, prevail again.
I'd like to carve something of beauty from these remains
I've been left with - 'entrusted to my possession',
My grandfather wrote before he died:
'Show something rare and precious that lives inside,
That can resist the stone and lift the weight of isolation.'

It's been three weeks since I saw her. We argued,
She left and slammed the door, that echoed
In my sudden silence, the void which attends my life
When I'm without her. O, cruel Sunday,
You never ask for my advice
Or wonder why I sit alone,
Writing, with just a memory,
A picture and a stone.