Out of the Cage
The baking sun has seared a bald blemish
where the dog likes to squat; if I narrow my eyes
it almost shines. A mane of asparagus fern
tumbles down the rockery, a green waterfall
in a thicket of discouraged sticks and leaves.
They’ve forecast a shower. It will not mask
the dusty tedium that has crept into every crevice.
I have lost my ability to brighten; the balls I throw
high above the sand no longer fall as glowing orbs of light.
I no longer trust laughter, or joy, or love.
I had a vision once: a mouse transformed, carriages
like Faberge eggs, their great gold wheels transporting me
to a world of gentle wisdom, euphoria, sunshine, but the
mouse kept growing, became bloated; delicate Japanese blossoms
heavied, drooped, their overblown petals pungent with rot.
The change was imperceptible. In the 1980s
we danced and glittered, building around ourselves
a velvet birdcage, bright feathers fluttering, convinced
of immortality. But bit by bit the colours faded
and our dancing slowed. The fabric disintegrated
but we could no longer fly. We waddle, fat now,
ruffle our feathers, chuckle deep in our throats
and pretend that togetherness on the cage floor
was what we always wanted. We sneer at those who soar
and tell ourselves that this is just a wrinkle in our eternity.