(for Thom Gunn 1929-2004)
Perhaps our dances, in a thousand years,
Will tattooed be as drums,
And our bright minds, undone by fate,
Shall in the musk of eons drown.
Our souls will all rise glorified
As pods of whales weave waves.
Our flesh, once firm, relaxed as stones
That serve to mark our graves.
Our pleasures seen as ancient rites
Describable as dreams.
Our voices, in a million years?
Insubstantial as starbeams.
Perhpas our songs, in a billion years,
Will as steel stiffened be,
And our arabesques as gestural
As paintings of the sea.
Our nods will be but inclinations
Of the folds beneath the eyes.
Our plans but vague intentions
Of the wind beneath the skies.
Our breath, a transpiration
Of dust immured in dust.
Our lives, a visitation
Of a rushlight drowned in musk.
All these, our words and scattered songs,
May come, in time, to less than naught,
As Mayan blocks of hard hacked stone
Embalm the skin we once sloughed off.
But now, like rattles kept within
A jeweled bone box, our hollowed skin
Is shaken in the rambles of the park
To frighten schoolgirls after dark.