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In darkness. In rain. Yourself at the very point

where what's yours bleeds off through the palings

to terra incognito, and the night's blood-hunt

starts up in the brush: the notion of something smiling

as it slinks in now for the rush and sudden shunt.

A women is laying a table; the cloth

billows as it settles; a wine-glass catches the light.

A basket for bread, spoons and bowls for broth

as you know, just as you know how slight

a hold you have on this: a lit window, the faint

odour of iodine in the rainfall's push and pull.

Now she looks out, but you're invisible

as you planned, though maybe it's a failing

to stand at one remove, to watch, to want

everything stalled and held on an indrawn breath.

The house, the woman, the window, the lamplight falling

short of everything except bare earth -

can you see how it seems, can you tell

why you happen to be just here, where the garden path

runs off to black, still watching

as she turns away, sharply, as if in fright,

while the downpour thickens and her shadow on the wall,

trembling, is given over to the night?

Surely it's that moment from the myth

in which you look back and everything goes to hell.

A View of the House from the Back of the Garden

David Harsent

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