undressing

Beatrice Garland

Like slipping stitches

or unmaking a bed

or rain from tiles,

they come tumbling off:

green dress, pale stockings,

loose silk - like mown grass

or blown roses,

subsiding in little heaps

and holding for a while

a faint perfume - soap,

warm skin - linking

these soft replicas of self.

 

And why stop there?

Why not like an animal,

a seed, a fruit, go on

to shed old layers of moult,

snakeskin, seed-husk, pelt

or hard green-walnut coat,

till all the roughnesses

of knocking age

are lost and something

soft, unshelled, unstained

emerges blinking

into open ground?

 

And perhaps in time

this slow undoing will arrive

at some imagined core,

some dense and green-white bud,

weightless, untouchable.

Yes. It will come,

that last let-fall of garment,

nerve, bright hair and bone -

the rest is earth,

casements of air,

close coverings of rain,

the casual sun.