November: hunched above the peel-specked sink
he skims his fingers with the steady knife.
So many hours and still no time to think
and, in the bitter winter dark, his life
curls smaller, colder while the city blooms
with fire, expands itself beyond the night.
No call for bloated dreams in narrow rooms,
no cause, these frozen days, for stunted flight.
There’d been vague promises he meant to keep
or leaps of stubborn faith he’d planned on taking;
there’d been a hazy summer half-asleep,
he’d faked whole lives and hoped to go on faking.
Now, if he dreams, it’s only surface-deep
and always at the needle-point of waking.
‘Casi como un milagro’
Every morning begins with a cup of coffee,
and over time the rings have moved like ripples
across the faded surface of the kitchen table.
Each small mark is a sign of victory.
Every morning, he takes a book of poems and reads
for half an hour at his desk, stealing a few lines
for a notebook which has frayed with time.
The seven o’clock cold curls around his feet.
For years, mornings have begun this way
but now he feels a desperate need for order,
a rage to cling to details, to record the
swell of birds against the paling sky.
Each day becomes a requiem for all he cannot know;
still, in its minor way, a miracle, like bluebells in the snow.
The middle comes nowhere near the middle –
one morning spent dragging a hangover
to a pinched spit of rock, I’d recover
a single word from the deep brown ribbon
of a rip current and then hurry on,
feeling the quick thrill of being alone,
noticing only that the sea seemed new:
a midsummer, kingfisher shade of blue.
Jacob Silkstone lives in Bergen and has previously worked as a primary school teacher in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is a poetry editor for The Missing Slate and an assistant editor for Asymptote, and his work recently appeared in Sculpted: Poetry of the North West.